The ANC, which under Nelson Mandela ended decades of white minority rule, could even clinch a two-thirds majority in parliament and is battling to take the remaining two of the nine provinces where it does not hold sway.
South Africa’s first black president and hero of the anti-apartheid struggle, Mandela turned up at the ballot box in the upscale Johannesburg borough of Houghton and declared: “I feel elated as I am able to vote again.”
South Africa’s 21 million voters will elect the 400 members of the National Assembly and representatives to the country’s legislatures in the nine provinces, choosing from 37 parties including 21 fielding candidates on the national ballot.
The new National Assembly will then convene on April 23 in Cape Town to elect the president, with Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded Mandela in 1999, widely tipped to win a second and final term in office.
Public opinion polls show the ANC could garner as much as 73 percent of the vote, up from 66 percent in the 1999 elections and 62.7 percent in 1994.