All systems go at IEC centre

2011-05-18 07:38

Pretoria - The Independent Electoral Commission's national results centre in Pretoria hummed with activity on Wednesday morning as South Africans took to the polls.

IEC official on electoral matters, Stuart Murphy, explained the centre was on the "pulse" of internal operations.

The "cross" or operations floor, a cordoned-off area in the middle of the centre, received and handled mostly internal complaints reported to the IEC from various parts of the country.

"We deal with operational challenges... voting stations not opening, ballot paper issues, training, logistics, any internal IEC challenges," Murphy told Sapa.

Directly in front of the cross was a large blue electronic board that would display polling results once they started filtering in, possibly between 21:00 and 22:00 on Wednesday.

Murphy explained that capturing the actual results did not happen at the centre. This would take place at 234 municipal IEC centres across the country and then these would be filtered to the Tshwane base.

Murphy said the IEC was "ready to roll".

Polling stations across the country opened at 07:00 and voters could cast their ballots until 19:00.

In the 2009 national election, the shortage of ballot papers was a huge problem for the commission, particularly in Gauteng. Murphy said this was unlikely to repeat itself as voters had to make their mark at the station at which they were registered.

"With national elections, you can basically vote anywhere. But local elections are different and that's why we don't anticipate that challenge."

Broadcasters had set up makeshift studios at the centre and were already live on air an hour before polling stations opened.

Two private security companies and police were handling security at the centre. Eighteen police officers were on site, with additional "standby tactical capacity", said a senior officer on duty. There were 36 guards from one security company deployed for the day and 24 would be coming on shift on Wednesday night. Fire safety, the fire brigade, emergency services and disaster management were all on standby at the centre, ready for "any eventuality."

Read more on:    iec  |  elections

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