Johannesburg - At 5pm on Wednesday evening the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said that all 22 263 voting stations in the country were now up and running smoothly. Chairperson of the IEC Pansy Tlakula said that the last station to open had been in Maruleng, Limpopo and had opened at 2.50pm on Wednesday afternoon.
Tlakula said that one of the key challenges of the day had been voters deciding to vote at stations other than those they were registered at. She said this meant certain stations did not have the correct amount of voting materials. “The impact of this has been to put pressure on our planning and we have had reports of some stations needing extra materials,” she said. The IEC added that no station had experienced delays of longer than two hours because of the lack of voting materials.
Tlakula said that any instances of campaigning on election day should be reported by political parties to the police for investigation. This follows a number of reports of campaigning by various parties coming in from across the country. By law, campaigning should have ended at midnight last night. Tlakula said that the handing out of party T-shirts on election day was not prohibited by law, but that IEC officials had engaged with political parties to discourage it. “My colleagues informed me they raised these issues on a one on one basis (with political parties) and they got an undertaking from those political parties that they will ensure that the distribution of tshirts doesn’t take place next to the boundaries of the voting station,” she said. “Within the boundary of the voting station there is only one activity that is allowed and that is voting.”
When questioned on reports of voting ballots being photocopied in Alexandra township in Joburg, IEC officials responded saying that they had received no reports of photo copied ballots, but that these would not be counted when counting begins on Wednesday night. An IEC official said that reports of fighting in Alexandra township had been dealt with and voting had resumed as normal in this area.
Tlakula said that there were 25.3 million voters on the roll, which was 2.2 million more than in the 2009 elections. She said that the number of voting stations in rural areas had been increased to decrease the distances people needed to travel to vote. The IEC added that there were 78 observer groups overlooking the election process. They encouraged all voters to continue to go to the polls and assured voters that anyone in the queue by 9pm on Wednesday night would be allowed to vote.