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Battles for JHB, Tshwane heating up

Just over half the vote counting process is now complete in both metro municipalities.

Election officials work hard on the main floor at the IEC national results centre in Pretoria on 3 August 2016. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

PRETORIA - It's neck-and-neck in both Johannesburg and Tshwane this evening, 22 hours after vote counting began in this year's local government elections.

Just over half the vote counting process is now complete in both metros, so the results are nowhere near final yet.

The African National Congress (ANC) has for the first time in this counting process pulled ahead of the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the battleground of Tshwane.

With around 80 percent of the process complete on a national level, it's getting closer and closer between the two parties across Gauteng this afternoon.

ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete says while it's too early to tell how the party has fared, she's happy with preliminary results.

When Mbete arrived at the IEC results centre, she was taken to the party's desk and briefed on how the ANC is doing.

With around 80% of the votes counted nationally at 5pm, the ANC is leading in many areas around the country.

Mbete says this is music to her ears.

"It's still not a complete picture and we must limit our remarks on what it says to us. Overall, the ANC has done well and we are not surprised because I think we put up a very good fight. As a whole, I think South Africans conducted themselves very well."

She has joined many party leaders there, who are scratching their heads and crunching numbers as they trickle in.

Meanwhile, political analyst Richard Calland says the ruling party might have to forge coalitions in the Gauteng metros or face being thrown out of government.

He says the ANC will also have to return to the drawing board and find out where it went wrong.

"In total, turnout in townships and working class areas was significantly lower than in suburban areas where the opposition are stronger. All of that has added up to a real problem for the ANC, the ANC has been delivered a very stinging rebuke."

At the same time, music has started up on the floor there as politicians, officials and observers continue to arrive.

Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotoso Phahlane is among them and says he is delighted that voting in the local government elections was conducted without any serious unrest or incidents.

WORLD'S EYES FIRMLY ON ELECTION COUNTING

Government has released a statement saying the world's eyes are firmly on this elections hub there in Tshwane.

It says the process brings to the fore the credibility of the IEC, which remains one of South Africa's most trusted institutions.

Government says it's confident all objections raised with the commission are being addressed and the poll results will soon be certified.

As we await the final outcome of the voting process, government appeals for continued calm and tolerance and calls on all South Africans to abide by the laws of our country.

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