Johannesburg: South Africa's ruling ANC today won a fifth consecutive term, paving the way for President Jacob Zuma to return to power for a second term, despite huge controversies including claims of corruption during his first innings.
With 95 per cent of votes counted, the ANC had about 62.5 per cent of the vote followed by the Democratic Alliance on 22 per cent and Economic Freedom Fighters on 6 per cent.
About 25 million registered voters trickled into some 22,263 polling centres across the country to vote in the first elections on Wednesday in which the 'Born Frees' - people born in a democratic South Africa - exercised their franchise. Turnout was just over 72 per cent.
The elections are the first since the death of Nelson Mandela - the country's first black president - in December and mark 20 years since the end of apartheid rule. With a record number of 29 parties contesting the polls, opposition to the ANC was hugely fragmented, paving the way for 72-year-old Zuma to return to power for a second term, despite controversies including claims of corruption and unemployment during his first tenure.
South Africans have voted for parties, and not candidates, in a dual national and provincial ballot on a proportional representation system, with the winning parties deciding on the President and nine provincial premiers. Until now, ANC has governed in eight of the provinces, while the DA controlled the Western Cape Province.
The EFF was launched last year by Julius Malema, former ANC Youth League leader, after he was expelled from the party for outspoken comments about nationalisation of assets and other rhetoric not in line with the party policy. Those born after the end of apartheid in 1994 were able to cast their ballots for the first time, although only a third of those entitled to do so had registered to vote.