Pretoria – Except for a few glitches experienced in some provinces, voting in the country’s fourth democratic local government elections is proceeding smoothly with almost all voting stations managing to open at 7am.
In Gauteng, most voting stations opened on time with voting materials being delivered from Monday to allow 5.6 million provincial voters to cast their votes without any delays. The province has opened 2 480 voting stations.
Voting in Mpumalanga also started smoothly without any glitches reported. The voting materials were delivered to 1 565 voting stations, where 1 718 315 voters are expected to make their mark.
The Free State had a minor setback in one voting station at Phase 7 in Bloemfontein, where the station was burnt down last night.
Free State Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) spokesperson Mathabo Mfete told BuaNews that the station could not open on time as it was burnt down by unknown people and they had to erect a tent for voters to be able to cast their votes.
“The voting started late after we erected a tent next to the station which was set alight last night. People are coming in,” Mfete said.
However, voting in other stations across the Free State proceeded without any hiccups, with 1 386 520 registered voters expected to cast their vote in 1 320 voting stations that have opened in the province.
The Northern Cape also experienced a few glitches at one of its voting stations in Joe Morolong Municipality, where police had to be called in to ensure IEC staff and voters’ safety as a group of young people staged a protest outside the station.
“The protests started since Monday and the station could not open on time because the youth were still protesting, however, everything is now back to normal and people are starting to come in following the police intervention,” IEC provincial spokesperson Maruping Wildebees told BuaNews.
Provincially, out of 572 140 voters registered in the Northern Cape, about 39 000 had already voted by 9am in 655 voting stations around the province.
Voting stations across the country opened at 7am this morning and will close at 7pm, IEC Chairperson Brigalia Bam said 23.6 million have registered to take part in the elections.
Several politicians including Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Basic Education Minister Angie Motskekga are among those who have already cast their votes. President Jacob Zuma is expected to cast his vote in Inkandla at 11am. – Gabi Khumalo, BuaNews