Johannesburg: Despite widespread discontent with the current government over corruption and unemployment, the ruling ANC is expected to win tomorrow`s fifth democratic election in South Africa since anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela first took power in 1994 after decades of white rule.
The African National Congress (ANC) is largely seen as winning the election again, returning its leader Jacob Zuma for a second presidential term, although analysts are expecting the party to have a smaller percentage of votes than in the last election in 2009.
Despite the considerable dissatisfaction with Zuma`s first term with allegations of corruption, mismanagement and sometimes violent protests about a lack of delivery on basic services, the ANC`s dominance is expected to continue amid a highly fragmented opposition that has also seen former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema taking on his bosses with his own Economic Freedom Fighters Party.
With rhetoric of increasing employment and services through nationalisation of assets, Malema has found favour among the youth and is expected to garner a number of seats in parliament.
The strongest opposition though remains the Democratic Alliance led by Helen Zille which has been gaining ground among blacks after initially being seen as a whites` party.
The 2014 elections will be the first in which the so-called `Born Frees` - people born after 1994 in a democratic South Africa - will be casting their votes.
A total of 24 million people are eligible to vote in the polls.
The South African system of proportional representation sees voters choosing parties rather than candidates, with the party winning a controlling number of seats in the legislature selecting the president.
Latest polls indicate that the ANC is likely to secure about 63 per cent of the poll, just under 3 per cent less than it got in 2009.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), highly respected across the continent and internationally, has come under fire this time for alleged involvement by its chairperson, Pansy Tlakula, in irregular property deals for IEC buildings.
Several parties went to court last week in an attempt to remove Tlakula from office, threatening to have the results declared null and void saying she would not be neutral as the IEC head.
The court, however, ruled that Tlakula would continue in her position until the matter is heard after the elections.
In the last hours before polling booths open at 7 am tomorrow, thousands of police and soldiers have been deployed to a number of hot spots across the country where violent protests have erupted largely because of dissatisfaction with service delivery.
Scores of protesters have been arrested for burning public property and blocking roads. Final results of the election are expected within a week.