First results indicate South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) is on course to retain power, but after a lower voter turnout. Issues around corruption and unemployment may have played their part.
With about half the votes counted, the African National Congress (ANC) had about 57% of the vote. This would be a fall of 5 points below the 62% it gained in the last elections in 2014.
The national and provincial elections are the first since President Cyril Ramaphosa replaced former president Jacob Zuma last year.
The voter turnout was relatively low in Wednesday's poll - dropping to 65% compared to 74% in 2014 - as voters said they were disillusioned by widespread corruption and unemployment.
The election commission said a tally from 90% of the vote may be announced later Thursday, although final results may not be declared until Saturday.
Opposition parties have leveled corruption allegations against the ANC leadership, which, analysts say, has dented its image.
A weakening economy has also dogged the ANC in recent years and contributed to its falling levels of support in major cities.
There were also administrative problems, including a lack of ballots at a number of polling stations, causing very long delays.
Millions of South Africa's eligible voters also failed to register to cast ballots.
Under South Africa's parliamentary system, the National Assembly chooses the country's president after the elections.