Jacob Zuma and ANC Head for South Africa Election Win
The leader of the African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, looks set to be South Africa's next president following a general election.
With about half of all ballots in, the ANC had about 66% of the vote.
But it is still not clear whether the party will retain the two-thirds parliamentary majority needed to push through constitutional changes.
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has about 16% and the Congress of the People - formed as a direct challenge to the ANC - is trailing with about 8%.
The DA was ahead in Western Cape province, which is currently controlled by the ANC, with almost 50% of the vote.
At a celebration rally in Johannesburg, crowds of ANC supporters celebrated with Mr Zuma.
"This party is an elephant. You cannot actually topple an elephant," Zuma told a sea of cheering supporters clad in the party colours of yellow, green and black at ANC headquarters in central Johannesburg.
Zuma, who danced and sang his trademark "Bring me my machine gun" anti-apartheid anthem, stressed the ANC was "not yet celebrating victory", although with more than half the votes counted, it was set for a resounding win.
This is the fourth election in South Africa since the fall of apartheid in 1994.
The final result is not expected before Friday however it looks certain that Jacob Zuma will become president not long after prosecutors dropped an eight-year corruption case against him.
Among Zuma's first tasks will be reassuring foreign investors who fear trade union allies will push him towards the left at a time the continent's biggest economy could already be in recession for the first time in 17 years.
The rand firmed slightly early on Thursday after the smooth election, but later gave up the gains.
He has repeatedly said there will be no nasty surprises in store for investors and his room for policy manoeuvre is limited because of the global downturn. Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, a market favourite, is expected to stay for now.
Zuma has also pledged to tackle the rampant violent crime which could mar next year's hosting of the soccer World Cup.