So far so good, says IEC
Johannesburg - There were only a few minor glitches on Wednesday as South Africans flocked to voting stations countrywide in the fourth post-apartheid local government elections, said the IEC.
"Everything is on course," said Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula.
She said 96% of voting stations were open about two hours into the elections, but only 66% were open in Johannesburg and 84% in Ekurhuleni, east of Johannesburg.
"It's about 96%, maybe a bit higher... [but] we are concerned over the 66% in Johannesburg."
There were no major hiccups at voting stations in Gauteng, but isolated instances of technical problems, said electoral officer Sy Mamabolo.
The non-functioning of scanner machines known as zip-zips was reported on the West Rand, he said.
It had slowed down the voting process, but had not caused major problems.
Mamabolo said most voting station opened at 07:00 or soon thereafter.
There were no disruptions reported in security hotspots like Zandspruit and Diepsloot.
IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said there had been some problems with the "zip zip scanners" that read the barcodes on identity documents (IDs), but these were quickly resolved.
The commission had also received complaints from some voters that their names were not on the Voters' Roll.
"But remember, as long as you have a sticker in your ID book to show that you applied for registration, you can vote," said Bapela.
A few voting stations in the North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga were also closed.
Protests had erupted in three areas and a voting station and its ablution facilities were burnt down overnight outside Bloemfontein, she said.
Police had brought the situations under control.
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille was one of the first to cast her vote.
"People are understanding that voting for a party means voting for what they are going to do for you for the next five years," Zille said in Rondebosch, in the hotly-contested Cape Town.
President Jacob Zuma was expected to cast his vote at his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe voted earlier in the morning.
The DA's mayoral candidate for Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, was not keen to speculate about a possible ANC win in the city, which has been led by the DA.
The leader of the Independent Democrats, De Lille formed a coalition with the DA.
"I will not enter into speculation... I've put in my best, today it's time for the voters to speak. The future of the city is in their hands. I hope they make the right choice," she said.
Closely contested races
Another closely contested race was taking place in KwaZulu-Natal.
Political rivals Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and National Freedom Party (NFP) leader Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi were to vote just 10km away from each other outside Ulundi.
The two leaders are battling it out for the control of sprawling Zululand district municipality. The NFP is an IFP splinter group.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, in the Eastern Cape, voters started queuing long before 07:00. A neck-and-neck fight was expected between the DA and the ANC.
In Bloemfontein, in the Free State, Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota cast his vote at the Oranje Meisies School, where he shook hands with other voters in line, exchanging friendly banter, before asking if they minded if he jumped the queue.
A total of 10 055 council seats are being contested in 4 277 wards.
The IEC said 121 parties and 53 596 candidates would battle it out for the hearts and minds of 23.6m voters for seats in city and municipal councils.
Voting at all 20 859 stations closes at 19:00.