South Africans went to the polls Wednesday in an election marking 25 years since the end of apartheid rule in 1994.
Here are some reactions from prominent personalities and ordinary voters to the election, in which some 26.8 million people are eligible to cast ballots:
"The confidence that is just emitted by our people is amazing," said President Cyril Ramaphosa shortly after voting.
"This is a vote that reminds us of 1994 because in 1994 our people were just as excited as this because they were heralding a new period, a new future for our country.
"There's a great vibe and its vibe for democracy, itâ€™s a vote also for our democratic system that we have been building over the past 25 years."
F.W. De Klerk, South Africa's last apartheid-era president who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Nelson Mandela for their efforts to end white rule, said "everything is not dark in South Africa".
"There is light at the end of the tunnel, if the ANC wins and President Ramaphosa keeps his promises things will get better," he said as he voted in Cape Town.
Former president Jacob Zuma, forced to resign last year over corruption scandals, was certain his party would retain power.
"I'm confident that things will go the way everybody expect them to go. Big parties will be in front, small ones will follow as it has been always, it's a question of what is the distance between (them)," Zuma said after voting in his rural Nkandla village.
The firebrand leftist leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, whose young party is forecast to make major gains, said that if "South Africans want the EFF to lead, they must give it a decisive majority".
"Coalitions force us to choose between devils. You are caught between a rock and a hard place."
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane voted in Soweto, the crucible of the anti-apartheid struggle.
"Soweto to me represents in many ways the home of where the struggle is and now we are entering a new struggle for jobs for many South Africans ... itâ€™s a historic moment when we transition again".
Bus driver Rendani Jonas in Soweto was confident his party would win and "Malema is going to be president of this country".
Self-employed painter Victor Mhlongo, 42, acknowledged the ANC's failures, but remained loyal.
"As a country we are more like a family... I believe in every family there are days of hiccups or misunderstanding, but as a family we reconcile, we correct our mistakes and move forward," he said.
"We want to be set free from this poverty,â€ said Moxolo Gqetywa, 48, an unemployed mother of two girls waiting to vote in Soweto.