Pretoria - The Electoral Commission has expressed satisfaction with how voting for the general elections got under way on Wednesday despite isolated challenges that were reported from different voting stations across the country.
A record 48 political parties are contesting this year’s much anticipated elections.
Updating the media from the National Results Operations Centre (ROC), IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said many voters had already reported to voting stations by 7am when they opened.
“Reports from elections operations around the country show that almost all voting stations opened on time and by 11am today large numbers of voters had already cast their ballots,” Mamabolo said.
“The IEC assures voters that adequate supply of all materials including more than 60 million ballot papers are available and every voter will be assisted to vote,” he added.
Mamabolo said there were, however, the usual challenges, including election staff who failed to report on time for duty and where voting materials were delivered late to some voting stations.
He said other challenges related to difficulty in accessing voting stations due to trenches dug across access roads as part of protest actions.
“By 11.30am, only 17 voting stations remained unopened due to access challenges, 14 of these in the southern coast of KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.
“The commission has also received reports of an elderly voter who apparently died at a station in Elandspoort, Tshwane earlier today and expresses its condolences to the family,” Mamabolo said.
The IEC has slammed voters who were removing the indelible ink mark on their thumbs after voting.
“The indelible ink is one of a number of security checks and safeguards built into the election process but the commission wishes to remind all voters that any attempt to undermine the integrity of the election process – including attempting to remove the ink mark – constitutes electoral fraud and is punishable by up to 10 years in jail,” Mamabolo said.
The government also welcomed the smooth start to the national and provincial elections across the country, which has seen millions having already cast their votes by Wednesday noon.
In a statement, Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) acting director-general Phumla Williams said the government was satisfied with reports of the voting process and atmosphere, as reported by the Electoral Commission of SA.
“The vibrant atmosphere at voting stations around the nation is encouraging and we are confident that these elections will build on our history of holding regular, peaceful, and free and fair elections,” Williams said.
Williams said: “Government encourages all South Africans, especially young and first-time voters, to exercise their democratic right to vote. We call on all South Africans to honour our history and continue to strengthen the legitimacy of our democracy.”