Port Elizabeth - The result of the local government election will be "very close" in Nelson Mandela Bay, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said as she visited polling stations in the townships around the metro on Wednesday.
"We know it will be very close, every vote is going to count," Zille said at a voting station in Kwadwesi township.
"This is why I am here for the sixth time (during this local government election)."
Zille said that Nelson Mandela Bay deserves a better local government administration.
"I say to people you get the government you deserve," she said.
"And Port Elizabeth and Nelson Mandela Bay deserves better than it has."
The DA, she said, would be a "principled opposition" and would consider coalitions with opposition parties in the metro.
"We'll see how it turns out. After the election we will start looking at alternatives."
Many voting stations around the metro were empty on Wednesday afternoon.
Boerewors roll sellers, who had set up outside a voting station in the Port Elizabeth town centre, reported sluggish sales to voters.
"I expected better," one of the vendors said, shaking his head.
"The line was long this morning, but here people don't eat boerewors for breakfast."
Lines of voters started forming in townships around the metro well before sunrise.
Noeleen van Wyk, 52, of Bethelsdorp, said she and her husband woke up at 04:00 to pray for a Democratic Alliance 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.
"We know Helen (Zille) will deliver for us."
At the Eastern Province Athletics Stadium in the Port Elizabeth town centre, a long queue of voters had formed within an hour of polls opening.
"I'm not telling who I am voting for, but what I will say... It is neck-and-neck in Mandela Bay. It will all boil down to who comes out and votes," one voter told a Sapa reporter.
The ANC received 66.53% of the votes in the 2006 municipal elections but saw its support slip to 49.6% in the 2009 general election.
This followed the launch of the Congress of the People (Cope), which received 17.02% of the votes in the national poll.
Surveys suggest that Cope could fare poorly in the election after being split by leadership squabbles.
"Given our positive service delivery record in this and many other municipalities, we call on the people the Eastern Cape, especially the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, to ignore these organisations that have no interest in working with them to create better communities," the ANC's spokesperson in the Eastern Cape, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, said recently.
Eastern Cape electoral officer Bongani Finca said voting stations had reported only "minor glitches" across the province.
"There were one or two small glitches but nothing that affected the voting," he said.
Eastern Cape police said there had been no major incidents in the province on Wednesday.