Pretoria, South Africa - The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is set to win South Africa's fifth democratic election by a significant majority, debunking speculation that the party would be severely tested this week.
At midday on Friday, after an estimated 97.96 percent of votes had been tallied, the ANC was the outright leader with 62.2 percent of the count.
The official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), was sitting on 22.19 percent in second place.
Addressing the media on Friday, Pansy Tlakula, chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) announced that counting in the country's fifth democratic election was nearly complete.
"We are nearly home," Tlakula said.
In three of the country's nine provinces, results have been finalised. Officials say the counting in the other six provinces is at an advanced stage.
The IEC is expected to announce the results on Saturday.
"With 97,96 percent of results captured, we are confident of being able to announce the official results tomorrow," Tlakula said.
A record 25 million South Africans had registered for this year's poll. Tlakula said a total of 17.69 million votes were recorded in the national election and 17.12 million votes in the provincial election. Voter turnout so far was recorded at 73.26 percent.
In spite of the pre-election attacks on the ANC for slow service delivery, and allegations of rampant corruption and a tirade of criticism levelled at President Jacob Zuma for using public funds to renovate his rural home, the preliminary results confirmed polls that suggested the ANC would not be punished at the ballot box.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Jackson Mthembu, spokesman of ANC, said the party's "well-oiled election campaign" proved to be effective in delivery the votes.
"We are still the party that restored the dignity of our people in this country. People will never forget that," he said.
"We are very humbled by the confidence the people have shown to the African National Congress."
The official opposition, the DA, said in a statement on Friday that the early figures suggested that the party's support had grown from 16.6 percent in 2009 to 22.2 percent in this election. "The 2014 election delivered the DA's best election results in a general election," the DA statement said.
Earlier, the African Union observer mission had declared the election "free, fair, transparent and credible".
The IEC, however, is still dealing with four complaints lodged by opposition parties to the interim results.
Those complaints have been lodged by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the United Democratic Movement and the Democratic Alliance. Tlakula said the commission was still investigating the complaints and could not comment further at this stage.
On Friday morning members of the EFF 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.
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