South African President Jacob Zuma’s ruling African National Congress party (ANC) has won South Africa's fifth democratic election by a significant albeit reduced majority, debunking speculation the party would be punished over high unemployment and political controversy.
Early on Saturday, and with 100 per cent of the votes tallied, the ANC had 62.2 percent of the count, according to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). The official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), was in second place with 22.2 percent of the votes.
In the previous election, in 2009, the ANC received 65.9 percent of votes cast and the DA had 16.6 percent.
The ANC thanked its supporters on social media, while the DA said its support base had grown because of its offer of "clean government and job creation".
The IEC is expected to confirm the results later on Saturday.
More than 25 million South Africans registered for this year's poll and voter turnout was 73.43 percent. It was the first election since the death of Nelson Mandela and marked 20 years since the end of apartheid.
Once led by Mandela, the ANC campaigned on a record of promoting democratic freedoms and providing basic services to millions of South Africans since the end of white minority rule in 1994. But its reputation has been tarnished by the 2012 killing of several dozen protesters by police during labor unrest, which recalled the violent excesses of the apartheid era, and a scandal involving more than $20 million in state spending on Zuma’s private home.
Still, the party's relatively solid showing reflected the resilience of its support despite a series of scandals, and its ability to fend off a spirited challenge from the Democratic Alliance, a party with roots in white liberal opposition to apartheid decades ago that has sought to expand its influence beyond its stronghold in the Western Cape, one of South Africa's nine provinces.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu told Al Jazeera that the party's "well-oiled election campaign" proved to be effective in delivering votes.
"We are still the party that restored the dignity of our people in this country. People will never forget that. We are very humbled by the confidence the people have shown to the African National Congress," he said.
Earlier, the African Union observer mission declared the election to be "free, fair, transparent and credible".
The IEC, however, is dealing with four complaints lodged by opposition parties to the results. Those complaints have been lodged by the ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the United Democratic Movement and the Democratic Alliance.
On Friday, EFF members protested outside the premises of the national broadcaster, alleging that the slow process of counting was a result of the ruling party rigging the vote.
Al Jazeera and wire services