“I have voted to have my voice heard,” said Alexandra resident Mpho Maphutha.
Maphutha (32) was speaking to City Press outside Nine Vasco voting station in the township in Gauteng.
He had just voted for his political party of choice, which he said he was hopeful would bring about change after 25 years of democracy during which Alex – as the township is better known – has experienced little or no change.
Maphutha said casting his vote was important to deal with the issues raised by protestors recently. The protestors participated in a protracted protest earlier this month in the township over poor service delivery of water, proper sanitation and RDP houses.
“As you know about the Alex shutdown, it is for that reason I decided to vote. I want my voice to be heard. I think the party that I’ve voted for will bring about that change,” Maphutha said.
Together with Charlotte Didzhana (27), they cast their votes at Nine Vasco, where the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) set up three tents for the purpose.
Not far from the IEC tents were ANC and EFF tents where both parties displayed their colours.
Police were also present.
Didzhana, also a resident of Alex, said she had voted for change. “Our youth is involved in drugs. You see we can’t walk after 9pm because of the nyaope boys. They have killed so many people here and nothing has happened. We need change,” she said.
Other residents who spoke to City Press, said they had decided to stay away from the polls because little has happened in the township.
“Why vote when you know that these corrupt politicians are going to eat alone and no one is going to be arrested or sentenced? These politicians are just playing with our lives,” said 26-year-old Steve Libona.
City Press also talked to political party representatives at two voting stations - Nine Vasco and Tsutsumani, also in Alex.
There was some drama during the day at Tsutsumani after ANC members, who were driving Toyota Quantum taxis dropped off voters who were alleged to have been taken from other voting stations in the township.
DA party agent Francis Mbizeni said there were voters that were allegedly “poached” by ANC Quantums, however metro police intervened and those voters were returned to the voting station.
ANC party agent Nombulelo Zolani confirmed this saying these were elderly people who had gone to voting stations where they were not registered to vote.
“We only provided transport to the elderly who were at voting stations that they were not registered to vote in. There was nothing sinister about this. We were helping the elderly.”
At the same station, EFF party agent Kgabo Raphala, who is also the party’s Alex 109 branch chairperson, said there were minor incidents of other parties having more than two party agents onsite but this was resolved.
“But, we expect more challenges in the evening. That’s where tricks are being performed. But we will remain very careful,” he said.
The IEC announced around midday from its National Results Operations Centre in Tshwane that election day got underway to a very positive start at 7am.
“As always there were some challenges reported including instances where election staff failed to report on time for duty and where materials were delivered late. These had been resolved by 09h00,” the IEC said in statement.
It also said there were a number of challenges relating to access to voting stations due to trenches dug across access roads as part of protest action reported, but in most cases the police, supported by the transport department and municipal services were on standby to quickly resolve these incidents.
“By 11am today only 17 voting stations remained unopened due to access challenges. 14 of these were in the southern coast of KwaZulu-Natal. The IEC is working closely with security agencies supported by government departments to open these stations as soon as possible,” the IEC said.
It also said a vehicle accident involving election staff was reported in the Eastern Cape but no serious injuries were reported.
An elderly voter also died at a voting station in Elandspoort and a deputy presiding officer died in the Eastern Cape overnight due to illness, the IEC said.