The government said the election and its aftermath had gone smoothly, despite some scattered delays and disruptions, and an outbreak of street violence in a poor area of Johannesburg. (Agencies)
With all 22,000 voting districts counted, the African National Congress had 62.15 per cent of the vote, several percentage points lower than its result in 2009 elections, the election commission said on its website.
The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, won 22.23 percent of the vote, an increase of more than 5 per cent from 2009.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, a new party that wants to distribute national resources to the poor, won 6.35 per cent.
Voter turnout was 73 per cent of the 25 million South Africans, or half the population, who registered for the national and provincial elections.
In a key race, the ruling party won Gauteng, South Africa's most populous province and its economic center, by about 53 per cent, but that was a drop of 10 per cent from its performance in the 2009 vote.
The Democratic Alliance came second in Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg, with nearly 31 per cent and the Economic Freedom Fighters won 10 per cent.
Once led by Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress campaigned on a record of promoting democratic freedoms and providing basic services to millions of South Africans since the end of white minority rule in 1994.
Its reputation has been tarnished by the 2012 killing of several dozen protesters by police during labor unrest and a scandal involving more than USD 20 million in state spending on the private home of President Jacob Zuma, but its relatively solid showing reflected the resilience of its nationwide support.
The Democratic Alliance, which has centrist policies and campaigned on a platform of more jobs and curbs on corruption, has expanded its influence beyond its stronghold in the Western Cape, one of South Africa's nine provinces.
The government said the election and its aftermath had gone smoothly, despite some scattered delays and disruptions, and an outbreak of street violence in a poor area of Johannesburg.