Election fever sets in with start of special voting

2019-05-06 20:47
Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu casts his special vote. (Supplied, Benny Gool)

Election fever set in on Monday, as the first votes of the 775 000 people registered for special votes were cast.

Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah cast their vote in the privacy of their own home in Milnerton, with a large media contingent hoping for a rare glimpse of "the Arch", as he is affectionately known, and his wife.

"Thank you for coming," said the 87-year-old Tutu, waving to the media and blowing a kiss as he walked the IEC officials out afterwards. 

IEC officials in their light blue T-shirts, carried the valued envelope containing their ballot papers, while two police officers monitored discreetly outside the house. 

Government officials - such as ANC NEC member and Minister in the Presidency, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma - voted at the Compensation Trading Store in Kwa-Dukuza, KwaZulu-Natal, and Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele also voted on Monday.

Special votes are for people who got their application in before April 18. They are for the elderly, ill, people unable to get to a voting station, and those who are expected to be out of the area on the big day, May 8.

It is also time for journalists and safety and security officials to make their cross. Special voters can go to their voting stations, which are open from 09:00 to 17:00 on Monday and Tuesday.

This is slightly different to the big day - May 8 - when they will be open from 07:00 to 21:00. 

On special voting days, IEC officials travel to the homes of people unable to get to a voting station.

IEC chairperson Glenn Mashinini voted at the Dainfern Primary School in Gauteng, ahead of a busy week. 

People were proudly showing off their thumbs marked with the ink to show that they had voted.

However, there were some complaints that voting stations were not ready to receive special voters yet. 

One was former Media24 CEO Esmaré Weideman, who tweeted that her voting station was not open and that she had a plane to catch. 

"IEC official has apologised for 'confusion'. They now preparing polling station while we wait, and with a plane to catch. Lots of merry talking going on inside". 

Eventually she tweeted: "Finally voted!". 

The IEC also had their first situation with a report of ballot boxes found on the streets of Tzaneen in Limpopo. 

However, it quickly tweeted a response to say the loss of three unassembled boxes was a case of negligence. They did not contain ballots. The person responsible would be removed from duty and face internal processes.

Police officers in Worcester were photographed at their morning parade ahead of monitoring in the town, which has a massive centre for the blind. 

The IEC also apologised for its website buckling under the load at times, and was posting regular updates and reminders on its Twitter feed. 

No major incidents had been reported as at 12:00, the IEC said in a statement on Monday.

Among the minor challenges reported by election officials included late delivery of some election materials, last minute pitching of tents and the non-arrival of election staff due to illness.

Contingency plans re in place for election officials who may be absent on any of the voting days and the special voting days act as a good "dress rehearsal", the commission added.

Find everything you need to know about the 2019 National and Provincial Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections.

Read more: Get ready for the 2019 elections

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