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A man places an election poster of President Cyril Ramaphosa on a minibus taxi outside a polling station in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 8, 2019.

The vote comes 25 years after the end of apartheid, but despite the demise of the system of racial discrimination the country remains divided by economic inequality.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress is expected to retain its majority in the National Assembly after taking a huge lead in early results tallied Thursday afternoon.

In South Africa, the economy is stagnating, the national debt is worrying, unemployment is officially at 27 per cent and more than one in two young people are without jobs.

The ANC forced Zuma to quit in February a year ago and replaced him with Ramaphosa, who had won the party leadership two months earlier by a razor-thin margin.

A poor showing for the ANC would embolden opponents of President Cyril Ramaphosa and risk a potential challenge to his leadership, analysts have said.

"As the ANC win is digested, markets will swiftly shift their focus to the subsequent actions of the ruling party, including the announcement of cabinet.as well as policies relating to expropriation of land without compensation", said Bianca Botes, corporate treasury manager at Botes Peregrine Treasury Solutions.

"The ANC is never going to perform any better, it's a dying party, it continues shedding votes - because it does not have economic management capability".

Depending on whether there is low, medium, or high turnout, the ANC is predicted to bag between 61 percent and 65 percent of the national vote, said Ipsos.

Speaking to us in Ashburton, these residents say they hope their voice will help improve the country.

The EFF had received support from 1 223 377 voters thus far.

Despite 25 years of equal rights under the law, a recent World Bank survey showed that the country is the most unequal on Earth, with South Africa's richest households nearly 10 times wealthier than poor households. Voters cast ballots for a national party and the number of votes won by each party determines how many representatives are sent to the legislature.

TRT World's Ben Said has this report from Johannesburg.

Mr. Ramaphosa, a wealthy businessman and former union leader, is more popular than his party.

"We have given them 25 years but the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer", said voter Anmareth Preece, 28, a teacher from Coligny in North West province. "I don't think that will happen", said Carl Vermassen, fund manager, emerging markets debt at Vontobel Asset Management.

Ramaphosa is trying to arrest a slide in support for the ANC, which has won every parliamentary vote since the end of apartheid in 1994 but whose image has been tarnished by corruption scandals and a weak economy in the past decade.

"I'm standing there and thinking, does anyone else get emotional about voting anymore?" she said.

More than 26 million people have registered to vote but local surveys suggest that six million young people are not on the electoral roll.

The Southern African Development Community Electoral Observer Mission led by Zambia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Malanji observed the process from Hartfield Polling Station in Pretoria.

Final results are not expected for 48 hours.