South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has taken an early lead in the country’s general elections, initial results show.
With more than 30 percent of the ballots counted Thursday, the ruling ANC appeared very likely to win a fifth consecutive term in office, but with a reduced margin as compared to the previous round of voting.
According to reports, the ANC had 58.7 percent of the vote, down from the 66 percent it won at the last elections.
This is while the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, doubled its share of the popular vote to 27.7 percent, although the tallies could still change significantly.
Left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, which is less than a year old, has also won around four percent of the vote.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said the turnout was just over 72 percent with about 25 million people having registered to vote in 22,000 polling stations across the African country.
IEC chair Pansy Tlakula said voting “proceeded without serious incident in almost all areas.”
“Very high volume of voters was reported in metro areas throughout the country,” she added.
The ANC has dominated South African politics since 1994, when it led a movement against the country’s former apartheid regime.
Casting his ballot in his home village of Nkandla, incumbent President and ANC leader Jacob Zuma said he expected that the “results will be very good,” conceding, however, that the campaign had been “very challenging.”
Zuma has been criticized by opposition parties over the alleged use of a 23-million-dollar taxpayer fund to upgrade his private home.