But party's share of vote decreases
Although South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) is the winner of the 7 May general elections for parliament and nine provincial legislatures its result was down to 62 per cent of the vote from the 65 per cent it achieved in the 2009 election.
The main opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) increased it share of the vote, coming second with 22 per cent of the national vote – an increase from its 16 per cent in 2009 – giving it 89 seats in parliament compared to its previous 67.
The ANC won 249 of the 400 seats in parliament, a decrease of 15 seats from last time around.
The victory gives a second five-year mandate to the party led by incumbent president Jacob Zuma who has pledged to introduce business-friendly reforms to create employment and boost economic growth. It is the party's fifth successive victory since the apartheid era ended in 1994, and the first since the death last year of former South African president and ANC hero Nelson Mandela.
The ANC won eight of the nine provincial legislatures, losing the Western Cape to the DA as usual. The liberal pro-business party has held power in the region since 2009 and somewhat surprisingly increased its majority in the province from 51 per cent in 2009 in the last election to its current 59 per cent.
The DA came in second place in six provinces, beaten to third position in Limpopo and North West by the newly-formed far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) headed by the highly controversial Julius Malema who led the youth section of the ANC until he was expelled from the party in 2012.
The EFF came third nationally, obtained 6 per cent of the overall vote and gained 25 seats in parliament. Voting was mainly without incident in the first elections in which the so-called born frees, those born in post-apartheid South Africa, could vote. Turnout was over 70 per cent, with about 25 million people registered to vote in 22,000 polling stations across South Africa.