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South African citizens grew concerned over housing, sanitation and clean water in this election. - 

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: It's voting day in cities all across South Africa. What's being called a big test for the ruling African National Congress party. Once loyal supporters say the party that ended white minority rule years ago, isn't doing enough for the poor these days.

From Johannesburg, the BBC's Karen Allen reports.

KAREN ALLEN: The ANC is still the dominant political force in a country where nearly 80 percent of the population defines itself as black. And elections in South Africa are still largely determined by race.

But now the main opposition party -- the Democratic Alliance -- is hoping to win over towns and cities currently run by the ANC.

The campaigning has focused not on race -- but on the ruling party's ability to deliver cheap housing, water and even public toilets in some of the poorest areas.

Lerato Mafokeng is a resident of Ficksburg.

LERATO MAFOKENG: We need a house because we are five living in this small house, we don't have any privacy.

The ANC's own supporters may be among its biggest critics but what is far from clear is whether they'll transfer their loyalties to the opposition, or abstain from voting altogether.

In Johannesburg, I'm the BBC's Karen Allen for Marketplace.