South Africa

2019 ELECTIONS: BIG WEDNESDAY

On the Ground (part 2): South Africans finally get to have their say

Anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Denis Goldberg at the polling booth in Hout Bay. (Photo: Tessa Knight)

On Wednesday, some voters stood in queues while IEC officials scrambled to fix jammed scanners and locate missing ballot forms. Other voters were lucky to be in and out the polling booth within minutes. In Part 2 here, the team from Daily Maverick bring these vignettes and interviews from the field.

Centurion: Frustration grows in the long queue

As rain threatened to fall on the Philena Middle School voting station in Centurion on Wednesday afternoon, voters complained about standing in the queue for almost two hours.

“I should have finished voting by now. They told us to come this side. How long am I going to wait here?” asked Mpepele Lebang from Olievenhoutbosch

Voters wait in line at the Philena Middle School Voting Station in Centurion to vote in the 2019 elections. Photo: Greg Nicolson

Voters complained they were told to leave nearby stations and vote at the Philena Middle School, which was overwhelmed, remarked the presiding officer.

“Why must I suffer? I want to vote but they don’t want us to vote,” said Lebang, outside the voting station, a tent on the side of Centurion’s Summit Road.

“It can’t work like this. It’s not acceptable, really,” he continued. He was unsure whether he stay and would wait until his turn to vote.

“It can’t work like this. They must do something,” said Marcus Maphelela, also waiting in the queue of about 200 people.

Both Maphelela and Lebang were frustrated that they had to sign a form to vote at a station other than where they were registered, saying it was holding up the queue. DM – Greg Nicolson

Hout Bay – Mandela’s trial mate Denis Goldberg has his say

ANC veteran and Rivonia trialist Denis Goldberg cast his ballot at Hout Bay Heights. The 86-year-old, a Rivonia trialist alongside Nelson Mandela, and who was imprisoned for 22 years, told members of the media outside the voting station that he had voted for the African National Congress.

ANC stalwart Denis Goldberg at the voting station in Hout Bay. Photo: Karabo Mafolo

When asked how he feels about the environment young people in South Africa are faced with, Goldberg told a group of media practitioners and everyday voters that he believes young people are dying to build a better, more democratic future. But the struggle stalwart is saddened by the number of registered voters.

I’m disappointed that people between the age of 18 and 34 have not registered to vote, because they need to vote. They will build the country. An old devil like me, what more can I do than talk? They’ve got to do the hard work of mobilising people. It’s not one person that makes freedom.

On the EFF, Goldberg emphasised that the party, whose supporters are known as fighters, should not play a significant role in government.

I think it would be a tragedy for us if the EFF gets a big vote and becomes part of government. They put forward everything that is opposite to our constitution. Our constitution says build a non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous South Africa for all our people, not just for one little group.”

But Goldberg is confident that the young party will not be overly popular in today’s election, because “half of the age group that they appeal to are not registered to vote”.

Both the EFF and the ANC did not have political party booths at the Hout Bay Heights voting station, despite ANC members in party colours arriving to support Goldberg. In the majority DA supported ward, the ACDP, GOOD, NFP, and the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party set up shop, encouraging citizens to vote for the smaller parties. DMTessa Knight and Karabo Mafolo


Langa – Nomboniso Konzapi is voting for jobs

“I vote for change” says Nomboniso Konzapi, a resident of Langa, who Daily Maverick met at the voing station at Isilimela Comprehensive School in Langa, Cape Town.

Konzapi, who works as a nanny in Pinelands and Rondebosch toldDaily Maverick that she is voting because “we have children- they said they’ll give them jobs. They’re unemployed”.

The Langa resident said she had wanted government to look at transport within her suburb, because “we depend on that. We don’t have buses – MyCiti and Golden Arrow”.

Langa resident Nomboniso Konzapi, May 8 2019. Photo: Sune Payne

“It’s difficult,” she said, as she explained that there are only taxi’s operating in her area, the trains are not working and she would like buses to come into the area.

Because of this, she needs to wake up early, especially if she is going to her work in Rondebosch. Konzapi said she needed to make sure she gets the direct taxi by 7.30am, otherwise she would have to take 2 taxis to get to work.

Why is she voting?

“Because I was staying in a shack, and now I’m staying in a house,” said Konzapi, who moved into her flat in 2012.  DM. – Sune Payne

CT-Woodstock – Voting picks up as the rain subsides

Polling stations picked up as the rain (mostly) subsided towards noon. The queue at the Chapel St Primary School in Woodstock was longer than it’s been all day and stretched around the side of the voting station. Party volunteers from the DA and ACDP set up tents outside the polling station, right as voters headed inside to cast their ballots.

Queues form at the Cape Town Civic Centre, Cape Town, May 8, 2019. Photo: Jonah Dylan

At the Cape Town Civic Centre, party agents looked on as presiding officer Sandra Fredricks put together a number of ballot boxes. The party agents cannot wear anything with their party affiliation on it except a name tag, but if one person is wearing yellow, another blue, another red and another orange, well, do the math.

The Civic Centre has had substantial waiting queues for most of the day, Fredricks said. Voting has started to pick up across Cape Town as the public holiday continues. Polls will close at 21:00. DM – Jonah Dylan

Sandton – This time Siyanada Mthiyane is voting for change

Much of what you would expect in a business district, the polling station at the Sandton Fire Station was packed and the proceedings were fast. Although 30 minutes was the average time voters waited on the queue, many were complaining that it is taking too long and they need to head to work and attend meetings.

The two lines were divided according to surnames. From A to N were in one line and from M-Z in the other. As the day went on the lines began go grow and wind around the Fire Station parking lot.

Siyanada Mthiyane, a 34 year-old security guard who normally works at City of Johannesburg Offices has been deployed to work at Sandton Fire Station. He hopes that when if they “knock off early” then he will be able to go vote at Alexandra, where he is from. However, if he has to work late, then he will have to vote at the fire station.

He moved to Johannesburg from KwaZulu-Natal in 2007. He says the first two times he voted in 2009 and 2014, he voted for the same party but does not want to say which one. This time he wants to vote for “change”. He expects whichever party wins to provide more job opportunities and free education.

The party is not the same as the last two times but today I have to vote for change,” said Mthiyane.

For others at the Fire Station, they do not expect much change. According to 26-year-old white youth, who wanted to remain anonymous, “it is all about voting for the lesser evil”.

He says it is not the happiest thought, but about “voting for the least worse”. For him, it is important to participate in the electoral process.

I don’t think people are wasting their time. Big changes takes time. We’re are not like America where we have to ping pong between two parties,” he said. DM Nkateko Mabasa

Phoenix – ‘Jobs, housing and better opportunities for people’

For small political parties with negligible resources to spend on posters and campaigning, setting up a stand outside a voting station can be their best shot to catch undecided voters’ attention before they cast their ballot.

Voters queue to have their IDs scanned at Swanvale Primary School Voting Station in Phoenix, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, 8 May 2019. Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim

That’s what party agents from the Democratic Liberal Congress were hoping for on Wednesday. They had erected a table and umbrella opposite the voting station at Swanvale Primary School in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal, from where they were hoping to win the favour of voters over rivals from the DA across the road.

This predominantly Indian ward went to the DA by a landslide in the 2016 government elections, but not all locals are happy with how the party has managed the area.

Democratic Liberal Congress volunteer Morgan Nair said that he had jumped ship from the DA the day before elections, after many years’ membership. 

Our councillor does nothing,” he complained. He pointed to black rubbish sacks strewn on the side of the road.

Get a vehicle, come and remove it. You have all the finances, do it! We put [the councillor] there, he needs to work for us!”

Nair is now putting his faith in the Democratic Liberal Congress instead: a Durban-based party founded by a former Minority Front figure, Patrick Pillay, in 2016. 

Inside the voting station – one of the busiest in the region – presiding electoral officer Shamila Chetty told Daily Maverick that around 550 people had voted as of noon on Election Day, with 4,500 voters registered at the station in total.

A constant stream of people entered the school to vote, but the process was smooth and queues were kept short. 

Voters with surnames beginning with AAA-MUN were directed to Mr S Coopsamy’s Grade 6a classroom to cast their vote. Surnames MNO-ZZZ were sent to Mrs S Pillay’s Grade 6b classroom.

Reggie Nair, standing in line to vote with his wife, said he had lived in Phoenix for eight years. 

Voters arrive at Swanvale Primary School Voting Station in Phoenix, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal on 8 May 2019. Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim

“This election is good, but people are less excited to vote this year,” Nair told Daily Maverick.

On his electoral wish list for Phoenix: “Jobs, housing and better opportunities for people.”

Nair also wants the local police to form a special task force to deal with crime and drugs brought in by foreign nationals. The belief that foreigners are disproportionately responsible for crime is widespread in KwaZulu-Natal, where at least four people lost their lives in xenophobic violence just a few weeks ago. DM – Sandisiwe Shoba, Aisha Abdool Karim, Rebecca Davis

Chiawelo – EFF, DA supporters drool over Cyril Ramaphosa

At the Hitekani Primary School, throngs of people – including journalists – scrambled to get a shot and a glimpse of President Cyril Ramaphosa casting his vote

Notably among them were DA and EFF supporters in their full party colours also wrestling to get a glimpse of the ANC and country’s President. They danced away while waving the EFF flag and pushed their way hoping to access some vantage point from which to see the President.

All the while the weather was deteriorating rapidly and as soon as Ramaphosa walked into the voting station a light drizzle started to fall but could not drive people away as they waited for another chance to see Ramaphosa when he left. A number of people admitted that they had not come to vote but were there to get a glimpse of the President.

Hlamulo Baloyi said she had not come to vote as she was not interested in politics but had come to see the President. “I know Ramaphosa is a good man,” she said.

Ramaphosa arrived at the polling station at about 11.10am. Accompanying the President was the Independent Electoral Commission’s Chairperson Glen Mashinini.

The clear mandate we are going to get out of this election is to speed up the process of growing our economy on an inclusive basis so that we can address the plight and the needs of our people in our country,” said Ramaphosa.

He said with their votes, voters were heralding a new dawn, a new beginning, a period of renewal and hope. He said this vote evoked memories of the 1994 historic elections.

This is a vote that reminds us of 1994 because in 1994 our people were as excited,” added Ramaphosa. DM Bheki Simelane

Sophiatown – Rain will not deter change, say voters

Even though the weather is cold with a hint of drizzle, voters at Laerskool General Christian De Wet, Sophiatown, Johannesburg are not deterred.

Voting in Sophiatown, May 8, 2019. Photo: Ayanda Mthethwa

“I think my vote counts, and it will contribute towards how political parties represent us,” Fanie Tsatsi said. “There’s a lot of corruption and unemployment and I would like to see that change.”

Basil Carelse, deputy presiding officer said: “The atmosphere has been positive and the turn-out is good considering the fact that it’s a small community.” DM Ayanda Mthethwa

North West – ‘We need to use the opportunity to turn the country around’

In Oukasie near Brits in the Madibeng Municipality, about 20 people were already queuing at the Makhudu Levy Mamabolo community hall by the time the polling stations opened. They were made to wait another 20 minutes as it appeared that some of the voting materials arrived late. ANC and EFF volunteers were out early at desks in front of the polling station

Longer queues were, however, at Hoërskool Brits and Thornhill Primary School in the predominantly white area, where voters say they didn’t mind waiting. Nina da Sousa said this wasn’t the longest queue ever, but when she went to Nelson Mandela’s funeral in 2013 the queues were longer. “We need to use the opportunity, while we have it, to turn the country around,” she said. 

FF Plus volunteers were on hand outside the Hoërskool Brits polling station to help voters with their problems. FF Plus councillor Elsa Lourens said the party was happy with the way voting was going, adding that the queues she has seen had been very long. 

Voters also came out to vote at a marquee near the Wonderkop taxi rank in Marikana, where quite a number said they were registered in different provinces, but found themselves in Marikana for work. One voter, from the Free State, said he wanted things like roads and water to change. 

Just outside Marikana, in a small Dutch Reformed church building in the Rustenburg East area, two friends who work in the nearby mine were in relaxed mood with a beer each in an old Toyota Corolla as they came out to vote. It was clear that they had different opinions. One of them remarked that they woke up without running water in the morning, something that happened quite often. “We need to change this around,” he said, adding that he believed President Cyril Ramaphosa was a good guy, but simultaneously that his hands were tied. “We’re going to have to give him another five years after this five years and then he will shuffle things and then it’s another 30 years.” He said he believed things had to change. “Change can be a holiday,” he said. 

His friend, however, implored Ramaphosa to bring jobs. “I want to ask Ramaphosa please to check the rate of unemployment as the mining industry is going down.” He said Ramaphosa must attract investors who will pay workers properly and who will be concerned about their well-being. 

By lunchtime, both the EFF and the ANC were in full campaign mode outside polling stations. There was also a table with an ATM poster on it, but the DA was nowhere to be seen outside polling stations. 

The EFF has also accused ANC members in the North West of voting twice at different polling stations in Marikana. DM – Carien Du Plessis

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