AFP - Ruling party leader Jacob Zuma said Thursday he could smell victory in general elections, addressing 2,000 cheering supporters at the African National Congress party headquarters.
"We know that counting is still going on, but we can smell a 70 percent" majority, said Zuma, wearing a black and yellow leather jacket on a stage where he danced with singers as firecrackers popped and champagne flowed under a shower of confetti.
"This is not a celebration, but we are here to thank you for coming out in large numbers to support us," Zuma said.
The ANC was leading with two thirds of the vote, with about half the ballots counted. Its nearest rivals trailed, with the opposition Democratic Alliance at 16 percent and the ANC breakaway Congress of the People (COPE) at 7.8 percent.
"Opposition parties campaigned by belittling this organisation of the people, but we came out strong," Zuma said.
An ANC victory will produce a parliament certain to elect Zuma to the presidency when lawmakers convene early next month.
But his supporters were already celebrating outside the party building, which was wrapped in the ANC colours of gold, black and green.
"I am happy that Zuma is going to become president. This moment is like a dream come true to me. I am so happy for the ANC and Zuma," gushed Eric Zim, a migrant worker from northern Limpopo province.
"Zuma has silenced his detractors," said Zim.
A small group of people held a mock funeral for the opposition, carrying cardboard coffins bearing the names of parties including the breakway COPE.
"We were innovative in our campaign, this is a lion of an organisation," he said.
"We travelled the length and breadth of this country campaigning door to door, talking to ordinary South Africans," Zuma added.
Before leaving the stage, Zuma gyrated to his trademark song, Awuleth' Umshini wami (Bring my machine gun), delighting the ululating crowd.