South Africa


Smooth run at the polls on big by-election day for South Africa

(Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

The Independent Electoral Commission says the 40 by-elections across the country had a ‘steady flow’ of people into voting stations. There were no reported incidents.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says there was a steady flow of voters during 40 by-elections held across South Africa on Wednesday, 19 May.

“We are very happy with the manner in which the by-election process is unfolding… there’s a steady flow of voters to voting stations,” said CEO Sy Mamabolo. The 40 by-elections took place across the country — in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Free State.

Mamabolo told Daily Maverick on Wednesday there were no incidents reported across the country, even in the Free State, as protests erupted over service delivery in Mangaung. The city did not have by-elections, but the municipalities of Maluti a Phofung and Matjhabeng did. “There are no incidents and we are particularly happy with that because agents are playing their role accordingly,” said Mamabolo. “Our staff are cooperating well with the voters as well as the security personnel”.

Mamabolo said “for now, it’s the final push to get voters to the voting station” and added, “What is left for us is that everyone who wants an opportunity to vote, gets an opportunity to vote before 9pm”. Voting across the country closed at 9pm.

Political analyst Sanusha Naidoo told Daily Maverick that the by-elections were an “important indicator of what’s happening on the ground”. She said the by-elections were an important precursor to the Local Government Elections, scheduled to be held later this year. Key themes include the IEC’s preparedness, issues around young people voting and whether people are willing to vote.

Naidoo said the by-elections were a big test for political parties in the light of being unable to canvass and lobby for votes during the Covid-19 lockdown. “I think this will also be a litmus test for how elections are going to be — how political parties are going to be performing, but for local government down the pipeline,” said Naidoo.

The next set of by-elections are scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 30 June. These will be contested among nine wards across the Eastern Cape (Makana Municipality and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Municipality), KwaZulu-Natal (eThekwini Municipality and eDumbe Municipality), Northern Cape (Sol Plaatje Municipality) and in the Western Cape (two in the City of Cape Town, one in Cederberg Municipality and in Swartland Municipality). DM

In the lead-up to the by-elections, analyst Wayne Sussman previewed some key issues for Daily Maverick. Find them here:


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