The African National Congress won the fifth democratic elections with a reduced majority, mustering 62.16 percent, according to preliminary results released on Friday.
The party received 11 436 654 votes, which was less than the 11 650 748 votes (65.9 percent) it received in 2009.
Its support in Gauteng, the economic heartland of the country, decreased from 64.04 percent in 2009 to 53.63 percent, the party's worst provincial performance in 2014.
The Democratic Alliance increased its support nationally from 16.66 percent in 2009 to 22.22 percent (4 089 043 votes), while the Economic Freedom Fighters garnered the third highest support with 6.35 percent (1 160 208 vote).
Among the worst performers was the Congress of the People who had polled 7.42 percent in the last general elections, but decreased to a mere 0.67 percent (123 221 votes) this time around.
Despite predictions that the Inkatha Freedom Party would fare poorly at the polls, it received the fourth highest number of votes with 2.4 percent (441 853 votes). In a surprise result its breakaway party, the National Freedom Party of Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, came fifth with 1.57 percent (288 742 votes).
This was the first time the NFP contested a national election.
Bantu Holomisa's United Democratic Movement increased its support from 0.85 percent in 2009 to one percent (184 622 votes), with the sixth highest share of votes. The Freedom Front Plus followed, having improved its support from 0.83 percent in 2009 to 0.9 percent (165 464 votes), while the African Christian Democratic Party polled 0.57 percent of the vote (103 981 votes).
Mamphela Ramphele's Agang SA was among the poor performers on the day, with only 0.28 percent (52 334 votes) of the national vote.
Other parties which had previously won seats in the National Assembly such as the Minority Front, United Christian Democratic Party, the Pan Africanist Congress, Azanian People's Organisation and African People's Convention were all but routed at the poll.
In the Western Cape, the DA retained power with 59.38 percent of the vote, and for the first time became the official opposition in KwaZulu-Natal relegating the IFP to third place in President Jacob Zuma's home province.
In the North West and Limpopo the ANC retained power but the embattled Cope, which had previously been the official opposition in both provinces, was replaced by Julius Malema's EFF.
According to the Electoral Commission of SA voter turnout nationally was 73.43 percent, with 18 399 269 valid votes cast. This was slightly down from 2009.
A total of 251 957 votes were spoilt nationally up from 239 237 in the last poll. This meant that there were more spoilt votes than those who voted for the UDM or all the other parties below it.
The IEC is expected to announce the final results at 6pm on Saturday. It was still dealing with complaints from some political parties. - Sapa