South Africans are voting in parliamentary elections, which will also determine the next president.
It is the first time those born after the end of white minority rule may take part and the first election since Nelson Mandela died.
The ruling ANC party is favourite to win a majority, despite its leader Jacob Zuma being dogged by a corruption scandal in the lead-up to the vote
ANC has been the ruling party since the first post-apartheid elections in 1994.
Their nearest rival, the Democratic Alliance, lacks mass appeal. It has struggled to shed its image as a “white” party. The DA polled 16.7 percent nationwide in 2009.
But the most spirited challenge comes from a new left party, whose leader models himself on Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters wants to nationalise banks and mines and seize white-owned farms without compensation.
Malema – the expelled leader of the ANC’s Youth League – even wears a Chavez-style jaunty red beret, but polls put his party’s support at no more than five percent.
Opinion polls suggest there is no doubt about the overall result. ANC support is estimated at around 65 percent.