South Africa celebrated ten years of democracy in April 2004 with a third round of national elections. The African National Congress — led by Nelson Mandela’s successor, Thabo Mbeki — won another overwhelming victory. The country’s transition will be remembered for the surprising ease with which seemingly intractable conflict was subjected to the routine functioning of democratic institutions. This essay analyzes South Africa’s first decade of democracy — covering themes of electoral politics and administration, and government responsiveness and accountability. Perhaps paradoxically, the emergence of a single-party dominant regime has coincided with the institutional strengthening of political contestation and constitutional government. Implications for democratic consolidation and developmental governance are discussed.