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2024 ELECTIONS

‘Sick and tired of being sick and tired’ — SA casts critical votes

‘Sick and tired of being sick and tired’ — SA casts critical votes
Villa Liza residents in Ekurhuleni, cast their votes on election day, 29 May 2024. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

The highly anticipated 2024 National and Provincial elections are underway and despite some challenges, IEC maintains that the commission has enough voting material and every voter will be assisted before stations close at 9pm.

On 29 May, millions of South Africans went out in their numbers to mark their vote in the highly anticipated 2024 National and Provincial elections.

From Limpopo to the Western Cape, long cues were the order of the day even before voting stations opened at 7 am on Wednesday, as millions of South Africans took up the call to decide who would govern the nation.

Katleho Twala, who was waiting in line at the Jan Shoba Street and Duxbury Road voting station in Hatfield, Pretoria said that he was cautiously optimistic. The young voter, wrapped in a South African flag, said that he joined the queue at 7:30 am, just after voting stations opened and was still waiting to make his mark when Daily Maverick spoke to him at 12:30.

“I’m not going to leave the queue before I vote and I don’t see anybody else leaving the queue either. We are here for change,” Twala said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024

Taking the stage at the National Results Operation Center in Gallagher Estate, Deputy IEC CEO Masego Sheburi gave media, political parties and observers an update on the elections, saying that they were off to a smooth start despite some delays and challenges in some regions of the country.

“This, we think, is a testament to the enthusiasm of South Africans to record their political choice,” Sheburi said.

Although the commission could not share voter turnout as the law prohibited that, Sheburi said that the commission planned on receiving as many voters as anticipated, with estimates showing that the turnout may be more than 66% from 2019.

JHB, elections

A drone view shows people queueing at the Hospital Hill township to vote during the South African elections, in Johannesburg, South Africa. 29 May 2024. (Photo: Reuters/Ihsaan Haffejee)

Off to a smooth start

Sheburi said 93% of the 23,292 voting stations opened on time, and the remainder of the voting stations opened within an hour of the 7 am start date.

Sheburi explained that some of the voting stations opened late because materials did not arrive in time as a result of the IEC not having enough security to escort delivery teams and protests in certain communities in the Eastern Cape.

Sheburi reiterated that the commission has enough voting material and every voter will be assisted before stations close at 9pm.

Despite some of the challenges experienced, the elections were commencing smoothly, he added.

JHB elections

Citizens line up outside a polling station to cast their votes during the South African general election in Johannesburg, South Africa, 29 May 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

“The problems we have experienced do not amount to the deviation from the legal and standard requirements for free and fair elections. We could have done without them but we are dealing with them,” he said.

Noting the various challenges the commission faced, including malfunctioning Voter Management Device (VMB) and some voters not being able to vote, Sheburi said that the commission did not want to underplay the reports, but stressed that perspective was important.

Answering questions about issues with the VMD being offline, Sheburi said that it is not a requirement for the voting process, but is instead there to facilitate the smooth flow of voters and doesn’t reduce the integrity of the results.

“However, where it proves to be a hindrance rather than an enabler to voting, we can put it aside and revert to the manual system,” he assured.

Johannesburg

Election staff prepare a polling station as citizens arrive to cast their votes during the South African general election in Johannesburg, South Africa. 29 May 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

Some voters unable to vote

Sheburi made a point to remind voters of the cardinal rule in the 2024 elections, which is to only vote where they were registered. The IEC opened section 24A applications which allowed voters to change their voting station. However, several hopeful voters were met with disappointment when the change was not reflected in the IEC’s system, despite successful applications.

Daily Maverick was at the Jan Shoba Street and Duxbury Road voting station in Hatfield and spoke to three individuals who were experiencing challenges.

“I registered to vote, and it was confirmed that I changed voting stations but now the system has not captured that I changed locations and I can’t vote. It is frustrating because I have been here since 6.30 am,” said one individual who asked not to be identified.

“The problem is that it is not our fault. It is the fault of the system. We don’t even mind if we can’t vote regionally, but provincial and national matters”.

Another individual said she arrived at 7 am to vote but the system also did not reflect the change in her voting station.

“I can’t go to the Northern Cape I am studying here in Pretoria. I changed and confirmed that I had changed because I do want to vote and now I can’t,” she said.

Limpopo

People walk past a cut-out of African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa next to a campaign tent, on the day of the South African elections at Mahlanhle Primary School in Ga Mahlanhle, Limpopo Province, South Africa. 29 May 2024. (Photo: Reuters / Alet Pretorius)

The third individual said that although he had changed his station from the Mamelodi station to the Jan Shoba Street and Duxbury Road one, the system also did not reflect the change.

“I changed stations because I knew I would be working here today and now I won’t be able to vote. What if I go to the Mamelodi station and I am also unable to vote?”

The presiding officer of the station said these were the first voters of the day who had been experiencing this issue. Daily Maverick watched as she worked hard, calling the provincial office trying to rectify the situation.

Benoni, Joahnnesburg, elections

Voters waiting in line to cast their vote in Brentwood Park, Benoni, early on Wednesday morning. 29 May 2024. (Photo from Hot 102.7 chopper: Julia Evans)

Polarising feelings experienced in the lines 

Jackson Mojapelo (64) said that the lines of voters he had seen at Winnie Mandela Secondary School in Tembisa, Midrand were similar to the lines he saw in 1994.

“We took this government from the ground up to where it is today. Other people can say a lot of things, but we know for a fact, particularly us who started this democracy in 1994, we know where the government and economy were,” he said.

Mojapelo still has faith in the ANC.

“There is no political party that can do what the ANC has done for this country. Look how big Tembisa is. Before 1994 we only had two streets which had been tarred. There was no electricity. This school that we are standing at started in 1994, look at the clinic, the customer care centre, library, and this marvellous school all thanks to the ANC,” he said.

Alexandra, Johannesburg

Voting station (white tent) in Alexandra, Johannesburg at 7:44 am. 29 May 2024. (Photo from Hot 102.7 chopper: Julia Evans)

However, another voter in the line who asked not to be named expressed her frustration with the ANC.

“I am voting for change. There is a lot of issues, service delivery, water shortage, lack of electricity,” she said.

Youth unemployment was a key concern for her and one of the reasons she was in the line.

“The youth want to see themselves growing career-wise, we can’t go to school and just be unemployed,” she said.

The 22-year-old first-time voter said she was excited to cast her vote.

“I am excited, I have a feeling that my vote can lead to change,” she said.

Khayelitsha, elections

Nonkosi Ngindane, 62. Lulueka primary in Harare. “I like this thing (voting). Us 1961 people couldn’t vote. So I’m excited when it’s time to vote because I can vote.” 29 May 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

‘Sick and tired of being sick and tired,’ says youth  

Twala said he was trying to be as positive as he could about the outcome of the election.

“Because I do understand that the ANC’s hold will continue because a lot of our elders still feel loyal and like they owe them something, whereas a lot of the youth we don’t feel that same loyalty because the promises they have made had not been kept,” he said.

Some of the key issues for Twala include electricity and service delivery.

“My thoughts on any international issues are taking a backseat because I am looking at what I go through on a daily basis and what people around me go through. So that is what I am going to be focusing on,” he said.

Twala said that he felt the youth level of participation and engagement with these elections were surprisingly high.

“The sentiment among the youth is that ‘we are sick and tired of being sick and tired’ and amongst the elders, there is the sentiment of ‘better the devil you know than the one you don’t’, I am personally ready to roll the dice on a new devil,” he said. DM

Gallery

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