Election officials say that with 80 percent of votes counted, South Africa's African National Congress had won 64 percent of the vote in municipal elections across the country.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance won nearly 22 percent, according to results released by Thursday afternoon. More than 100 parties contested Wednesday's elections.
Chief Electoral Officer Pansy Tlakula told reporters she expected counting would be completed Saturday.
The ANC, governing at the national level and in most municipalities since apartheid ended in 1994, is planning a celebration rally Friday.
The ANC nearly matched its showing in the last municipal elections in 2006. The Democratic Alliance gained, drawing support from smaller parties rather than the dominant ANC.