IEC anticipates a smooth election

2011-05-18 09:35

Pretoria - Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula cautiously anticipated a smooth election on Wednesday.

"I think it's going to go well, but it's too early to tell," she said, arriving at the IEC results centre, at the old Pretoria showgrounds.

Tlakula, who earlier helped Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to vote in Hatfield, said she had not yet been briefed on how things were proceeding on the ground.

A media briefing would be held after midday to update the public on the progress of the local government election.

Hive of activity

The centre was a hive of activity before voting stations opened on Wednesday, with IEC support staff already fielding calls from officials on the ground.

IEC official on electoral matters Stuart Murphy said 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 said.

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

Murphy said that the capturing of the actual results did not happen at the centre.

This would take place at 234 municipal IEC centres across the country.

Murphy said the IEC was "ready to roll".

Polling stations across the country opened at 07:00. Voters can cast their ballots until 19:00.

There are 4 275 ward seats and 460 proportional representation seats being contested in the municipal poll, with 121 parties taking part in 278 municipalities.

Ballot papers

In the 2009 national election, a 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 come 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".

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Read more on:    iec  |  pansy tlakula  |  elections

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