The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says it is satisfied with the first day of special voting in the country, despite reports of protests at some voting stations and other challenges.
The special votes are being cast at voting stations and through home visits throughout the country.
Over a million eligible South Africans registered for special votes, which will close on Sunday evening.
“Given the record scale of the 2021 Municipal Elections, the Electoral Commission is highly satisfied with the start of special voting. Besides offering voters who cannot vote at the voting stations on [Monday] an opportunity to participate, special votes also provide the commission with an opportunity to identify and resolve any challenges ahead of the election,” Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said on Saturday.
Mamabolo reported that at least eight voting stations could not open in KwaZulu-Natal, where community members were protesting.
He said although protesting remains a right, communities should not to interfere with the right of others to cast their ballots.
“Those voting stations have to open and will open because there are people in those communities who have applied for special votes and those people are entitled – like all citizens – a right to participate in the elections.
“Working together with the security agencies, we should be able to get voting going in those areas,” he said.
In another snag to the commission’s operations, some landlords where IEC operations are being housed reneged on their contracts with the commission, causing a delay in the opening of voting stations.
Mamabolo said this would be given attention but no legal action will be taken.
“The important thing and our primary focus at the moment is to get operations going, and to get alternatives so that we are not disrupted. It’s an isolated incident and our focus is to re-establish operations and to get going with electoral operations,” he said.
Election Day voter turnout
Turning to the issue of voter turnout on Monday, considering that it is a long weekend in the country, Mamabolo appealed to South Africans to turn up in their numbers at polling stations to exercise their civic duty.
“This may be a long weekend and people may have travelled. Our call is that if you have travelled, please do come back to your voting station on time because you won’t be able to vote anywhere else than in the voting district that you are registered.
“We want to encourage them to come back and take advantage of the facilities that we have availed for them to take part in shaping the local affairs of their communities,” he said.
Results Operations Centre
On Saturday evening, the IEC’s Results Operations Centre was evacuated following a loss of electrical power at the centre.
The commission confirmed the incident but denied reports that a fire had broken out.
“We confirm a power failure at the National Results Operations Centre in Tshwane this evening as a result of a faulty transformer. The centre was evacuated for safety, with emergency services on standby. There are no ballots or election materials on site,” the commission said.
The centre was reopened on Sunday morning. – SAnews.