With about 50 percent of voting districts having reported in South Africa's general election, the ruling African National Congress is well ahead of other parties and looks set to win a comfortable victory.  The official results will not be released until Saturday.  The observers uniformly say the election was free, fair and well-run.

By all accounts the turnout in South Africa's election was very high, with voters streaming to the polls in great numbers despite a cold snap.

The determination to vote in this election led to some polling stations in the populous Gauteng Province, which includes both Johannesburg and Pretoria, temporarily running out of voting materials, including ballot papers.  While the Independent Electoral Commission [IEC] had printed more than double the number of ballots than it has registered voters, many chose to vote out of their registration districts, resulting in shortages in some areas.

A senior official in the Southern Africa Development Community observer mission, Tanki Mothea, tells VOA the response of the IEC to this, and other problems, was fast and efficient.

"Immediately the authorities would take it up and that makes the process really very credible when you see such a quick response to those who are charged with responsibility to undertake this task," said Tanki Mothea.

IEC Chairperson Brigalia Bam said she is extremely satisfied with the overall management of the election.  She also said voters conducted themselves well, with very few incidents reported.

"Very minor incidents, very minor, we are told of people who probably were making, making remarks or things like that, but no intimidation that was obvious, that would have led to someone being arrested," said Brigalia Bam. "We are delighted with that."

There were more than 19,700 voting stations, and thus far political parties have lodged less than two dozen objections.  Nkosikhulule Nyembezi of South Africa's independent Election Monitoring Network tells VOA this is within acceptable limits.

"Yes it is within acceptable limits because, I guess, it is just under one percent of the voting stations that have lodged objections," said Nkosikhulule Nyembezi.

Like Nymebezi, Mothea says South African voters were able to freely express their will.

"The people of South Africa have been able to express their will freely in a very conducive environment, free of violence and intimidation," said Mothea.

Mothea notes that in 1994 South Africa needed much advice from its neighbors to conduct an election.  Now he says, South Africa is an example to the region and continent at large.  He notes the IEC has improved its systems and processes in each South African election since 1994 and he expects them to do even better in future.