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On the Ground (part 3): South Africans finally get to h...

Defend Truth

2019 ELECTIONS: Time running out

On the Ground (part 3): South Africans finally get to have their say

A voter in Diepsloot Extension 7 casts her ballot in the 2019 elections. Photo: Greg Nicolson

South Africans woke up to cast their votes on Wednesday morning. Some had to queue, while others were lucky to be in and out the polling booth within minutes. In Part 3 here, the team from Daily Maverick bring these vignettes and interviews from the field.

Durban, KwaZulu-Natal – Disruptions averted but security checks slow process

In downtown Durban on election day, 8 May 2019, streets bore the scars of a municipal strike by members of the city’s water and sanitation unit, which had brought this central urban hub to a standstill in recent days. Uncollected rubbish was piled on street corners.

There were fears that the unrest might affect voting, amid threats by protesters to disrupt the electoral process if their demands were not met but KwaZulu-Natal’s outgoing premier, Willies Mchunu, confirmed on Tuesday night that an agreement had been struck in the nick of time.

A long winding line of predominantly young voters wait to cast their vote in central Durban, KwaZulu-Natal at City Hall on 8 May 2019. Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim.

With a few hours of voting still to go late on Wednesday afternoon, a long line of predominantly younger voters snaked around the voting station inside City Hall. Security was high alert, slowing the passage of voters, who had to go through a metal detector before they were allowed into the station. There was a heavy police presence on standby outside.

Ethekwini Metro Police’s Malusi Msomi told Daily Maverick that more than 6,000 people were registered to cast their vote at City Hall.

We don’t have exact numbers of how many people have voted, but as you can see there’s been a lot of foot traffic,” he said.

Many of those queuing to cast their ballots were voting for the first time.

Ngivotela ushintsho (I’m voting for change),” said 19-year-old student Bongani Mabaso, using a phrase that has been repeated often during this election cycle.

I want an end to corruption.”

Downtown hawkers took advantage of the day to add a range of party merchandise to their wares. Their selection was non-partisan: at the same stall, one could buy an EFF, ANC, DA or IFP kanga.

Not everyone queuing to vote was unconflicted. “I’m anxious about voting today,” said Sicelimpo Masimula, 21, a marketing student at Mangosuthu University of Technology.

I don’t trust politicians’ promises – but I’m taking a leap of faith and voting anyway.” DMSandisiwe Shoba, Aisha Abdool Karim, Rebecca Davis

Diepsloot, Gauteng – Desperate for change

Voters waiting at polling stations in Diepsloot were split regarding development in the area. They turned out in large numbers in the Johannesburg township, which sprang up in the 1990s, to have their say in the elections.

I just hope for changes,” said Frans Legodi. He said nothing had changed in the more than 20 years he had lived in Diepsloot, before his friend pointed to the road next to the polling station and said it had been tarred.

Patrick Mafunisa, 38, said the number of service delivery protests in the area had decreased in recent years. “Why? They’ve got electricity, they’ve got water. It’s not like Alexandra, actually.”

Electricity outages were sometimes a problem, he said, and one voting station in Diepsloot opened about 90 minutes late because of this, causing delays and what appeared to be frayed nerves as party agents discussed the challenges with IEC officials.

Samson Masilo, 37, was manning an EFF desk outside the station, waiting until the queues thinned in the afternoon before he voted.

It was not the voters or the political parties [that caused delays]. It was the IEC system. The scanners were not working but as you can see things are now moving,” he said.

There had been significant infrastructure development in Diepsloot in the almost 20 years he had been living there, Masilo said, but it had been poorly maintained. He credited the ANC for the development but said scandals had tarnished the party’s image.

Unfortunately, because of all these scandals and all this money that has disappeared, (the developments) have been overshadowed with a dark cloud,” he said.

Voting in some Diepsloot polling stations was also delayed by the lack of forms for voters who went to different stations from where they were registered, causing some frustration. DM Greg Nicolson

Bo-Kaap, Western Cape – Car accident leads to 35-minute voting delay

The Schotsche Kloof Community Centre in Bo-Kaap was temporarily shut after the polling station ran out of ballot papers. An area manager was on his way to deliver more ballots when he was involved in a car accident, which left at least two polling stations without ballots.

The delay at the community centre lasted for about 35 minutes. Many voters chose to stay; some left but assured IEC officials they would return later. Others who left were not sure if or when they would return to cast their votes.

The Schotsche Kloof Community Center in Bo-Kaap was temporarily shut down after the polling station ran out of ballot paper. Photo: Jonah Dylan

When the ballot papers were delivered and the station was reopened, the queue quickly grew very long, prompting some voters to leave, saying they didn’t have enough time to wait in the line. The wait time was estimated to be between 30 minutes and two hours.

While this delay happened due to circumstances out of the IEC’s control, there were a number of polling stations around the country that temporarily ran out of ballots. At Bo-Kaap, one man who said he didn’t have time to wait in line blamed the delay on the ruling party.

We won’t be able to stand another four years under the ANC,” he said. “This country will be demolished.”

Other voters guaranteed they would return later. “I’m definitely coming back later,” one man said. “It’s too important.” DM – Jonah Dylan

KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal – ‘I’m voting because I have to, not because I want to’

Voting day is also a public holiday, and in certain areas of KwaZulu-Natal it appeared that liquor outlets had been doing a roaring trade.

At the Duffs Road voting station in KwaMashu, a car full of IFP supporters roared into the parking lot blasting music, with a kanga bearing the face of Mangosuthu Buthelezi pinned to the bonnet.

Voters queue outside the Duff’s Road Primary School in KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal, on 8 May 2019. Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim

The area is known for men’s hostels and is associated with sporadic outbreaks of political violence. It is also IFP country: the IFP won this ward comfortably in the 2016 government elections.

Volunteers manning an ANC table opposite the voting station believed that things could change this time around.

Some of the people who voted IFP, they are coming back [to ANC],” one claimed.

Just more than 1,000 people were registered to vote at this KwaMashu station. The presiding officer, who identified herself as Mpho, told Daily Maverick that turnout had been good and “everything is on track”.

Though the majority of those in the voting queue at mid-afternoon were men – a number of whom were visibly drunk – there were also women waiting in line.

A woman who wouldn’t give her name was cradling her young child as she waited. The infant had scabby patches on her face and arms.

I’m voting because I have to, not because I want to,” she said.

Ngihlala kuleya mizi emihle phesheya (I live in those beautiful houses down the road),” she said sarcastically, pointing to the informal settlement nearby.

The presiding officer at the Duff’s Road Primary School voting station in KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal, who only identified herself as Mpho, assists voters with filling in forms before they are given their ballot papers on 8 May 2019. Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim.

Nophiwa, 34, had similarly mixed feelings.

We like to vote, and we are still coming to vote, but what y’all [politicians] are doing is not right,” she said. “You can’t live where I’m living.”

She had a baby boy, she said. Things were hard. The more she thought about it, Nophiwa seemed to doubt her decision to vote at all.

This election, I don’t think I was supposed to vote,” she said. “Enough is enough.” DMSandisiwe Shoba, Aisha Abdool Karim, Rebecca Davis

Emmarentia, Gauteng – Jobs front of mind

The line moved quickly at the polling station at Emmarentia Primary School. It took less than 10 minutes for voters to finish casting their ballot just after joining a queue that stretched to the gate.

One said she was happy it went so quickly, but she did not have any expectations regarding the political party for which she voted. As a disillusioned voter, she said she was not convinced of anything but still felt it was important to show up.

Emmarentia residents in a queue to cast their ballot for the 2019 Elections at Emmarential Primary School (08/05/19). Photo: Nkateko Mabasa

After voting, another Emmarentia resident simply said: “I’ve read Daily Maverick. I’ve got nothing satirical to say.”

Matshidiso Makhaketsa, a 30-year-old woman who is a domestic worker and lives with the family she works for in Emmarentia, said she waited in the queue for about 15 minutes before she could vote.

As for the party she voted for, she said she would like more job opportunities and funding to finish her studies. DMNkateko Mabasa

Roodepoort, Gauteng – Not so zippy, thanks to a malfunctioning scanner

Voting at the Panorama Primary School in Roodepoort was delayed thanks to problems with the scanner. Those waiting in the long queue were eventually advised to go to neighbouring voting stations.

We have a situation here at Panorama Primary School the zip-zip (scanner), has now ceased working,” said Amelia Bester, Ward 89 councillor.

Panarama Primary Voting Station. Photo: Chanel Retief

Florah Mukwevho, the presiding officer, said there had been several hiccups but they were managing.

We have one gate opened but for some reason the second gate (on the other side of the school) was opened (and) unfortunately somebody walked in through that gate. The person was not willing to go to the back of the line and so they left the voting station without voting,” Mukwevho said.

Vhutali Mathiba said he had waited in line for 30 minutes before he could enter the school.

Your voice matters and that’s why I’m voting. I want to see equal treatment and opportunities for all races,” Mathiba said. DMAyanda Mthethwa


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