Voters must make their mark, says IEC as it sends a warning to disgruntled South Africans

2019-05-07 22:09
A man hangs a voting sign in the Juju valley informal settlement on the outskirts of Polokwane. Some 600 families have settled in this space donated to the Economic Freedom Fighters. (Guillem Sartorio, AFP)

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has once again urged disgruntled South Africans not to disrupt the voting processes and allow people their constitutional right to vote on Wednesday.

Giving a final update on their election readiness on Tuesday, IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo called for peace and calm ahead of the big day on Wednesday.

READ: Six arrested in the North West for torching electoral officer's car as special votes are disrupted

"Let voting continue peacefully, calmly and without disruption and let us once against show the world that South Africa remains a shining light of democracy in action," Mamabolo said. "The campaigning has been done; it is now the turn of the voters to have their say."

While the IEC noted a significant decline in community protests this week, Mamabolo reminded citizens that Wednesday was a day for the electorate to make their mark on the ballot papers, rather than protest.

"Citizens are reminded that any disruption to elections constitutes a criminal offence," he said.

Violent incidents

Isolated incidents across the country have disrupted some of the special votes, which has led to a number of stations across the country opening late or not opening at all.

Mamabolo said this included two stations in the North West, a province which has been identified as a hotspot.

On Monday, during the first day of special voting, a group of knife wielding men accosted IEC officials who were conducting home visits in Giyani, Limpopo.

READ MORE: IEC removes deputy presiding officer from Benoni voting station following viral video

According to Mamabolo, the men confiscated 93 unused provincial ballot papers, which they then destroyed.

"Fortunately, no one was injured, and the cast ballots were secured and not affected," Mamabolo said.

He added that two suspects had already been arrested.

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South Africans face a monumental moment and the choice that we make may shape our future for decades to come. With the ANC likely to secure a majority in the national vote, the most contested battles lie in some key provinces where a majority for any single party is not beyond doubt.

Twenty-one suspects were also arrested in the North West after allegedly torching an electoral officer's vehicle in Ganyesa on Monday.

A school in Kraaipan village, North West, which will be used as a voting station, was also torched on Monday during an apparent service delivery protest.

Processes not followed

Mamabolo announced that the IEC was investigating reports of the double envelope system not being used, as well as some ballot papers which may have not been stamped on the back, during special voting on Monday.

He said that the incidents had been reported to the Party Liaison Committee on Tuesday, which recommended that the ballots be accepted where their legitimacy could be verified.

"The commission will ultimately make a decision on whether these votes are included in the count or not."

In the case of three unused and unassembled ballot boxes found on the side of the road in Tzaneen, Limpopo, the commission found that the boxes were lost during transit by the area manager.

He added that the manager had been suspended pending an internal disciplinary inquiry.

Special voting

The IEC expressed confidence that all special voting would be completed by Tuesday.

"We do not yet have accurate figures for special votes cast over the past two days, but indications are that this has proceeded well throughout the country," Mamabolo said.

He added that special votes from 113 of the 121 foreign missions had been received, after South Africans abroad voted on April 27. The outstanding ballots are expected to be received before 21:00 on Wednesday.

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. Make sure your News24 app is updated to access all our elections coverage in one place.

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