Cape Town – Over 95% of voting stations reported opening and operating smoothly by early on Saturday afternoon, the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said.
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Most of the country’s 22 659 stations opened at 8am, said IEC spokesperson, Kate Bapela.
President Jacob Zuma visited a station in Nkandla while Democratic Alliance leader, Mmusi Maimane, toured some in Tshwane. Other politicians also made their presence felt across the country.
Bapela said a few stations were delayed by double bookings at community venues, the late arrival of landlords with keys and the late withdrawal or arrival of staff.
Some areas were rocked by community protests relating largely to issues of service delivery and municipal demarcation concerns.
“While the Electoral Commission had anticipated some disruptions to registration in areas due to community activism, it is saddened to note that in some instances protesters appear to have targeted the registration stations and threatened IEC officials,” said Bapela.
An isolated number of stations had to close after staff were forced to withdraw over concerns for their safety.
Protest activities that affected a limited number of voting stations were reported in:
- Mahikeng, Taung and Marikana in North West
- Vuwani (Malamulele), Musina, Mogalakwena, Northhampton in Limpopo
- Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga
- Khayelitsha in the Western Cape
- Denver, George Koch, Orange Farm in Gauteng
- eThekwini and Jozini in KwaZulu-Natal
- Nelson Mandela Bay, Butterworth and OR Tambo in Eastern Cape
- Pampierstad in Northern Cape
- Maluti-a-Phofung in the Free State
Bapela said election officials were working closely with security forces, community leaders, political parties and others. This was to ensure the right to register to vote was not impacted and that voting stations were operational as soon as possible.
The IEC was pleased by the steady stream of people who registered to vote for the first time and by those re-registering in new or changed districts, she said.
Previously registered voters also took the opportunity to update the voters’ roll with their address details.
High volumes of traffic to the IEC website caused it to crash on Saturday morning. The website had logged 85 000 visitors by 1pm. Bapela said the delays and technical difficulties had been resolved and the website was now operating smoothly.
The SMS line to check registration also experienced backlogs. This was resolved and responses were now being sent out within seconds.
By noon, over 130 000 ID numbers were sent to the line. The contact centre logged over 10 500 calls, over 1 500 emails and over 1 300 interactions on social media by 1pm.
The IEC thanked politicians for coming out in their numbers to encourage voter registration.
In KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma was candid about who he supported.
“My vote is no secret, I vote for the ANC; even if I showed you all before casting my ballot, it does not matter. This is all just a formality," he told media at a voting station.
He said the local government elections were important.
"We have three tiers of government, local, provincial and national. Things happen at municipal level. That's where delivery takes place and that is where people are."
In order to register, individuals needed a valid SA ID document. They also needed details of their address to show they were a resident in the voting district.
“Voters are reminded that they any effort to register outside of their area of ordinary residence in an effort to affect the outcomes of an election constitute a criminal activity and will be prosecuted,” said Bapela.
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