BR’s journalists share their divergent voting experiences

Voters queue around the block at Wierda Independent School voting station in Centurion, Gauteng. Photo: Independent Newspapers

Voters queue around the block at Wierda Independent School voting station in Centurion, Gauteng. Photo: Independent Newspapers

Published May 30, 2024


SOUTH Africans of all walks of life turned out in their numbers yesterday to cast their votes to elect a new National Assembly as well as the provincial legislature in each of the nine provinces.

This was the seventh general election, and many pundits had categorised this as a pivotal election since the end of the apartheid era and the dawn of democracy in 1994.

Just like any South African citizens, Business Report staff members and journalists also went out yesterday to exercise their right and had this to share about their voting experience in various voting stations countrywide.

Some among the journalists experienced no long queues or delays, while others had to draw on their reserve patience to make their ballot, a truly South African experience considering the nature of our Rainbow Nation.

BR executive editor, Philippa Larkin: On Wednesday I stood for more than two-and-a-half hours in a queue to vote for politicians that I generally have zero respect for.

What makes me grateful and motivates me is that many countries don’t have democracy or a strong media.

As the Executive Editor of Business Report, it is a privilege to endure the boredom of voting because many are not so lucky. In other parts of the world, journalists have to be careful what they say, are persecuted and even killed.

So while I may feel gloomy over the array of political parties on offer, I reflect on those who don’t have democracy and on those who have to fight to vote.

This as South Africa celebrates 30 years of democracy since apartheid.

And while the country’s mood is not as celebratory as that under Nelson Mandela, amid a slowing economy and poor policy choices, there are still a lot of positives.

Seeing business and the government working closer together to fix ailing Transnet and Eskom is the right way to go.

Eskom’s current leadership too is finally getting results and that is to be congratulated.

The African Continental Free Trade Area is also a great opportunity.

However, among many negatives, my biggest bugbear is that politicians’ lifestyle audits and that of their families need to be implemented urgently and to be transparent.

This as politicians’ family ties appear alarmingly pop up in the area of the just energy transition and the next political money spinner – health.

The average person may also not realise how media houses have recently been fighting dodgy dealings in the judiciary, but that the media can do this is once more a positive for democracy.

I don’t know what tomorrow might bring, but as long as South Africa has a critical media and the right to vote, it’s fairly healthy. Yes, there is a lot of rot to fix, but that is for another day. Today we voted and each vote counts.

BR newsdesk editor, Siphelele Dludla: I cast my vote on Monday as I had applied for a special vote. The whole process took me at least 10 minutes. There was literally no voters at the station when I went there around lunchtime. The process would have taken even less time, but the gadget used by the IEC to cross-reference voters’ particulars to the voters roll was malfunctioning, so another official had to manually check my particulars on the voters roll booklet, but she was seemingly struggling with her eyesight.

It made me think how this could result in long queues on the actual voting day yesterday, but I hope the IEC was able to get over the challenges. Overall, it was a humbling experience casting my vote after missing the local government election in 2021. A lot is riding on making the right choices for our country, our economy, and our future.

BR online editor, Ashley Lechman: I went at 8am and finished by 9.30am. It was a very boring experience. I just stood in the slow-moving line and went to make my mark.

Personal Finance editor, Dieketseng Maleke: So the fear of missing out got the best of me and I wanted to vote. (I found out I can vote using my temporary ID.) Turns out I am registered in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth). BR multimedia reporter Given Majola had alluded that I might not be able to vote as I am registered in another province. I didn't know I had to register again as I had voted here without being registered. So jah, I can’t vote.

BR freelance journalist, Nicola Mawson: In Norwood, north-east Johannesburg, the polling station opened 15 minutes late after chaos earlier in the morning because ballot papers arrived late. The voting process was smooth, with a handful of people in the queue, all of whom were chatting amicably. The process took around five minutes, despite the scanners for ID barcodes not working.

A pensioner who cast his vote the day before also found technical issues, which delayed the process, even though he was the only one there. Police officers in Norwood reported no disturbance

BR senior journalist and night editor, Edward West: Long queues at Table View High School... So I left to visit family and go back later.