‘So far, so good’ – IEC

2011-05-18 10:57

There were only “a few minor glitches” today as South Africans flocked to voting stations countrywide in the fourth post-apartheid local government elections, said the IEC.“Everything is on course,” said Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula.

She said 96% of voting stations were open about two hours into the elections, but only 66% were open in Johannesburg and 84% in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.“It’s about 96%, maybe a bit higher... but we are concerned over the 66% in Johannesburg.”

A few voting stations in the North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga were also closed.

Protests had erupted in three areas and a voting station and its ablution facilities were burnt down overnight outside Bloemfontein, she said.Police had brought the situations under control.

IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said there were some problems with the “zip zip scanners” that read the barcodes on identity documents (IDs), but these were quickly resolved.

The commission had also received complaints from some voters that their names were not on the voters’ roll.“But remember, as long as you have a sticker in your ID to show that you applied for registration, you can vote,” said Bapela.

Leaders vote Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille was one of the first to cast her vote.“People are understanding that voting for a party means voting for what they are going to do for you for the next five years,” Zille said in Rondebosch, in the hotly-contested Cape Town.

President Jacob Zuma was expected to cast his vote at his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, at 11am. Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe voted earlier in the morning.

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande told reporters in Emmarentia, Johannesburg, that these elections were not only about open toilets, in reference to scandals involving both the ANC and DA building toilets without enclosures.

“It’s much more fundamental than that. We can’t let that distract us from what’s important,” Nzimande said minutes after voting.

The open toilet saga started with the DA in Cape Town, but later it emerged that the ANC had done the same in the Free State.

The DA’s mayoral candidate for Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, was not keen to speculate about a possible ANC win in the city, which was led by the DA.

The leader of the Independent Democrats, De Lille formed a coalition with the DA.“I will not enter into speculation... I’ve put in my best, today it’s time for the voters to speak. The future of the city is in their hands. I hope they make the right choice,” she said.

Another closely contested race was taking place in KwaZulu-Natal.Political rivals Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and National Freedom Party (NFP) leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi were to vote just 10km away from each other outside Ulundi.

The two leaders were battling it out for the control of sprawling Zululand district municipality. The NFP was an IFP splinter group.Praying for a DA win In Nelson Mandela Bay, in the Eastern Cape, voters started queuing long before 7am. A neck-and-neck fight was expected between the DA and the ANC.

Noeleen van Wyk (52) of Bethelsdorp, said she and her husband woke up at 4am to pray for a DA victory in the metro.

“Four o’clock is the best time to pray, because everyone else is asleep and it’s quiet,” she said after casting her ballot at a voting station in Bethelsdorp.“We prayed hard for a DA victory. I have six kids and only my husband works in construction. Life is very difficult, but the DA can make a difference.”In Port Elizabeth, vendors were preparing boerewors rolls and hamburgers for hungry voters.

“I’m not telling who I am voting for, but what I will say is that I’m voting against corruption and I’m voting for decent service,” said one man, who did not want to be named.

“You can figure out for yourself which party that is,” he said, as voters in behind him muttered in agreement.In Bloemfontein, in the Free State, Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota cast his vote at the Oranje Meisies School, where he shook hands with other voters in line, exchanging friendly banter, before asking if they minded if he jumped the queue.

A total of 10 055 council seats were being contested in 4 277 wards.The IEC said 121 parties and 53 596 candidates would battle it out for the hearts and minds of 23.6 million voters for seats in city and municipal councils.

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