Rain, mud and temperatures that dropped to 12C late Wednesday afternoon saw the determined queueing from 7am at voting stations in Makana wearing coats, scarves and beanies. Voting stations throughout South Africa began closing their doors at 9pm on voting day, Wednesday 8 May, and switching their focus to the critical process of counting votes. The first preliminary results were available on the IEC website around midnight. By this morning, in #Makana the only votes counted were from Assumption Clinic Tent where there was a voter turnout of 60.12%. So far within this municipality, the #ANC has 73.13% of votes; the #DA has 16.45%; the #EFF 6.14%. Only 3 878 votes had been counted as of 7.15am and so this result will change.
In a statement issued late Wednesday night, the Electoral Commission (IEC) said it wanted to assure voters and all stakeholders of the overall integrity of the electoral process. This was in light of serious allegations regarding two potential instances of double voting.
“Two separate instances have been brought to the attention of the Electoral Commission over the past few hours in which it is alleged voters were able to cast more than one vote at different voting stations,” the IEC said.
The voting stations that the Grocott’s Election team visited across Makana municipality reported few administrative or other problems, although Grocott’s Mail was informed about various concerns queried with the IEC.
As expected, Makana’s urban stations experienced much higher numbers of voters throughout the day. Stations in rural areas were calm and peaceful, with people trickling in during the 14 hours they were open.
First in line at the Hill Street station in Makhanda, at 7am sharp, were Brett Bay and Susan Radloff. Early morning voting there was slow – some people said they waited in line for about two hours.
The voting station at the Albany Recreational Hall near Middle Terrace opened on time, according to the IEC Presiding Officer. Voters were slow to arrive but parties were hopeful; the ANC, DA and GOOD were present outside the venue to welcome voters.
The first hiccup of the morning was expressed by DA member Marcelle Booysen, who took issue to the positioning of the voting booths in the hall. Allegedly a photograph was posted to social media of a voter at the booth with their ballot clearly in view. The image prompted IEC officials to re-arrange the booths in an “ATM” like fashion. Booysen disagreed with this as it could allow voters in line to see the other person marking the ballot.
Down the road at Mary Waters Secondary School voters and party agents crowded the area. The IEC Presiding Officer stated that by 10:30am 411 people had voted at the station. The venue was clean and organised, and parties outside were quiet and cordial. Members of the EFF, DA, ANC and GOOD had tables set up to welcome and greet voters.
In Hooggenoeg, the voting station was quiet. DA, ANC and GOOD had representatives at tables outside the venue; voters came and went with ease as the wind began to pick-up ever so slightly. The chill in the air however did not seem to affect the voter turnout.
SAPS officials at the venue said it had been smooth so far, and hoped for the rest of the day to go the same.
In Alicedale the mood in town was quiet and people wearing ANC, EFF and DA T-shirts greeted each other on the long road from Transriviere and KwaNonzwakazi townships to Alicedale Town Hall, or walked it together. It’s the only voting station in the area after two community halls were burnt and vandalised. Both the DA and ANC provided transport for the elderly.
Around 400 people had voted there by midday.
The police said things had been very quiet and that everyone was just really happy to be casting their vote.
In Seven Fountains, too, ANC, DA and EFF supporters and party agents chatted freely. Regina Busakwe, 73, was one of many who had walked the long muddy road to her vote. More than 200 had voted by 11am.
In Salem, a special attraction as temperatures dropped was a glowing log fire in the Cricket Clubhouse voting venue. Of a possible 523 voter turnout at that station, 206 had voted, with 20 special votes completed earlier in the week.
Around 3pm, Samuel Ntlebi Primary School in Joza was abuzz with voters and IEC staff said it had been like that all day.
“We didn’t even get a 10-minute break,” one officer said. Of a possible 1809 votes, 565 had been cast.
Outside, on the pavement opposite the school’s entrance, tables draped with party paraphernalia stood abandoned and in soggy disarray, their operators huddled in the shelters of any doorway they could find as the rain pelted down.
In Vukani the voting process went smoothly. But rumours of unhappiness at a voting tent in Extension 10 took the team to the temporary venue that was full – but rain and a few degrees drop in temperature meant that wasn’t too uncomfortable.
Grocott’s Mail had been told that the voting set-up at the Extension 10 tent was inadequate and that voters were being transported by their parties to alternative stations.
Across Joza Street and an expanse of open land, the Umzi Wasetiyopiya Catholic Church was likewise full. Of a possible voter total for that station of around 1 800, 1604 had voted by 4pm.
The Electoral Commission earlier said it was satisfied with voting progress nationally throughout the day. However,setbacks included ongoing community unrest in isolated areas.
“Despite the best efforts of the security agencies, government representatives and the Electoral Commission, five voting stations had still not opened by 5pm,” the IEC said.: In the Eastern Cape, one was in Buffalo City and one in Ntabankulu Inkosi Langalibalele municipality in the uThukela District (Escort).
Problems in other centres included temporary shortages of ballot papers at some voting stations.
Also at some other centres, voting operations were adversely affected by wet weather, community unrest, power outages and some logistical challenges.
In Nelson Mandela Bay and Cradock, heavy rain and winds also affected operations in more than 30 temporary voting stations.
For ongoing updates on results for #Makana and the Eastern Cape, as well as nationally, follow us on Twitter @Grocotts where our Elections Editor Steven Lang is monitoring the changing picture.
- Reporting by Steven Lang, Kathryn Cleary, Lindani Donyeli, Sue Maclennan, Asikelelwe Pezisa and Zethu Hlubi. Also contributing were Rhodes School of Journalism and Media Studies photography students. Look out for a gallery we’ll put up later today.