The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it’s all systems go for the sixth general elections. More than 22 000 voting stations will open at 7 o’clock Wednesday morning and close at 9 o’clock in the evening.
The IEC is urging South Africans to go out in their numbers to cast their ballots. Chief Electoral Officer, Sy Mamabolo says those who want to exercise their right to vote must be allowed to do so and should not be disrupted.
“The Electoral Commission calls on every South African citizen to celebrate our 25th anniversary of democracy by ensuring tomorrow’s elections take place in the spirit of 1994.”
Some analysts predict a low voter turnout.
Voters have been reminded to carry their IDs as a requirement to cast their votes.
Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele earlier appealed to South Africans to use the last remaining hours before Election Day to collect their IDs at their nearest Home Affairs offices.
Home Affairs offices will be open on Wednesday.
The IEC has also warned those who will be voting not to take photos of the ballot. “Voters are reminded that the secrecy of the vote is protected by law and it is an offence to take a photograph of a marked ballot paper,” Mamabolo warns.
The Electoral Commission says at least two police officers will be deployed to each polling station around the country. It adds that the deployment of police will vary depending on the volatility of the different areas.
Protests and arrests
Meanwhile 24 people have been arrested following a service delivery protest at Viljoenskroon in the Free State. A community hall that was to be used as a polling station was torched along with a clinic.
Locals say they will boycott tomorrow’s elections.
The Commission has issued a warning that disrupting an election is a criminal offence.
Eastern Cape House of Traditional leaders Chairperson, Mwelo Nonkonyane has condemned the protests aimed at disrupting the elections. IEC officials were allegedly prevented from opening voting stations for special votes in some areas in the Eastern Cape.
11 protesters have been arrested. Nonkonyane has urged those involved to allow people to vote and raise their complaints after the elections.
“We would like to appeal to them and cease the hostility and allow the people to vote. They must actually lead those people to vote; because it is crucial that all our people vote a party of their choice; because it’s through the will of the people that we have a legitimacy to govern.”
IEC suspends officials
The IEC says it has removed one presiding officer from a voting station and suspended another in connection with wrong doing with voting material.
The Commission says the first incident is in connection with the video that went viral of a party agent assisting with the transfer of special votes. While another is about a pack of three unused and unassembled ballot boxes found on the road in Tzaneen, Limpopo.
The official involved has been suspended pending an internal disciplinary hearing. IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo explains:
“The Commission appreciates the vigilance of party agents and voters in monitoring the election process and in bringing to its attention potential problems. This should be done firstly at the voting station through the Presiding Officer and if not resolved then it should be raised through existing channels including the party liaison structures.”
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