All systems go at IEC centre
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
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
Murphy said the IEC was "ready to
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."