South Africans vote in national and provincial elections on Wednesday with the ruling ANC expected to win, but with a reduced majority.
Below are facts about the election and the voting process.
* Voters will be voting in national and provincial elections. Voting is under a proportional system where parties submit lists of candidates to fill 400 seats in the National Assembly, and for provincial parliaments in South Africa's nine provinces.
* Parties will fill 200 of the National Assembly seats according to the national vote and another 200 seats in line with provincial support.
* Twenty-six parties will contest the election for the National Assembly and 11 parties will contest the ballot for the National Assembly and for all nine provincial legislatures.
* Parties have nominated 9,289 candidates for the national and provincial election, 61.6 percent of them male and 38.4 percent female.
2004 ELECTION RESULTS
* The ANC won 69.69 percent of the vote in the previous election held in 2004. The Democratic Alliance polled 12.37 percent of the vote, the Inkatha Freedom Party 6.97 percent and the United Democratic Movement 2.28 percent.
* Voter turnout in South African elections has been traditionally high. Turnout in 2004 was 76.73 percent.
* South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says 23.18 million people are registered to vote.
* In the previous election in 2004, there were 20.67 million registered voters.
* Polls open at 0500 GMT on April 22 at the 19,726 voting stations across the country. The IEC has 200,000 officials to ensure voting runs smoothly.
* Polls close at 1900 GMT and counting of votes starts immediately after the polling stations close their doors.
* Voters are identified through identity documents scanned using hand-held scanners, and are then stamped to ensure people do not vote more than once. Voters' fingers are also marked with indelible ink.
* The IEC says the election will be monitored by 4,900 domestic observers, 358 diplomats from 61 embassies and 355 international observers from the African Union, Commonwealth and Southern African Development Community.
* First results are expected late on Wednesday evening with the earliest likely to be from Robben Island, the former island prison off Cape Town where Nelson Mandela and many ANC leaders, including Jacob Zuma, were imprisoned under apartheid.
* The IEC results center will release results once they are counted, verified and audited. This means that results will be released on a rolling basis.
* Under South Africa's electoral laws, the final official result and seat allocation to parliament can only be released two days after polls close, to allow parties to lodge objections if they dispute the result in a particular voting station.