IEC (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says contingency plans are in place to curb anything that may hinder operations from running smoothly on May 8, the day when South African citizens head to the polls.
The IEC said that, while power utility Eskom had promised that there were no planned outages for the day, it had ensured that there were alternatives should there be no electricity.
"On our part, we have made contingency measures to deal with localised outages, and we will work in conjunction with Eskom and power utilities in the cities to ensure that, where we are challenged, we can get back to operations in a shorter period, as soon as possible," IEC deputy CEO Masego Shiburi said.
State of readiness
On Thursday, the IEC outlined its state of readiness at the national Results Operation Centre (ROC), at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria. It said it was all systems go for the big day.
Shiburi said an alternative source of light was in place at all 22 924 voting stations across the country, should there be blackouts on the day. This was to allow counting of votes to continue smoothly.
Shiburi said the IEC was also working with disaster teams in different provinces, in order to access voting stations, especially in areas that were recently hit by floods.
The South African Police Service is assisting the commission to get to voting stations that are not accessible.
"As we speak, in KZN, the disaster teams are busy doing rehabilitation work to enable us to access voting stations where bridges or roads have been swept away as a result of floods," said Shiburi.
The final preparations will be made over the weekend for the opening of the voting stations on Monday.
The IEC said election material would be transported on Monday from local warehouses so that the first special votes could be cast between 9:00 to 17:00.
"774 094 voters have been granted permission to cast a special vote on 6 and 7 May 2019, 452 418 (58.4%) through home visit by election officials, and 321 676 voters (41.6%) at their voting stations," commissioner Janet Love said.
Over 60 million ballot papers would be transported to the different stations.
The IEC said the materials would be escorted by police and other security personnel to ensure safe delivery to the stations.
Approximately 189 000 volunteer election officials have been trained and will conduct the elections at the different polls.
On May 8, voting stations will operate from 07:00 to 21:00. Voters who are in the queue by closing time will be assisted.
"Once the voting station closes, the counting of votes begins immediately at the voting station. The counting is conducted by election officials and is witnessed by party agents and observers," Love said.
The commission said it would constantly liaise with police and other security personnel to ensure that officials were deployed to voting stations, and to escort IEC staff.
"It is important to remind South Africans that, even though the right to protest is protected in law, it is also protected that you don't interfere with the process of the Electoral Commission," IEC commissioner Nomsa Masuku said.
Masuku was referring potential protests on the day.
Shiburi added that any form of "protest, march and demonstrations are outlawed on election day".
He added that, while the IEC was required by law to release the election results within seven days, it was not able to release the results earlier than 21:00 on Friday, May 10, as it would have to first consider any objections that may affect the outcome of the results.
"Any interested party and person has until 21:00 on Friday to lodge an objection to the outcome of the results which is material to the outcome," said Shiburi.
He urged all political parties and interested persons, who may have any objections, to raise them as soon as possible so that corrective actions could be taken.