Polling attendants counted ballots Thursday from South Africa's parliamentary election, which is expected to propel Jacob Zuma to the presidency in a remarkable feat for a man once embroiled in sex and corruption scandals.
South Africa's poor black majority connects with Zuma's deprived background, with many seeing parallels between Zuma's rise from childhood poverty to political prominence and their own struggles and aspirations.
His warmth and ease on the campaign trail, where he was quick to flash a gap-toothed smile or break into song, is reminiscent of Nelson Mandela. It also was a crowd-pleasing contrast to the aloof, intellectual Thabo Mbeki, the ANC rival Zuma ousted on the road to the presidency.
Zuma's governing African National Congress is expected to sweep the vote held Wednesday, as it did in the first post-apartheid election in 1994 and the two others since. Parliament elects South Africa's president, and an ANC-controlled assembly is expected to anoint the party's leader Zuma in May.