IEC laments low voter turnout at by-elections
Johannesburg - The Electoral Commission on Wednesday lamented a poor voter turnout at voting stations across the country, saying that despite around 130 000 people registered to cast their votes, not even 50% had turned out to vote by midday on Wednesday.
The IEC is expected to release the statistics of its overall voter turnout, when results from the 14 by-elections from seven provinces in the country are released in the early hours of this morning.
On Wednesday, Mawethu Mosery, the commission’s chief electoral officer, said that they expected that their overall voter turnout would have improved by the close of voting stations, at 9pm on Wednesday.
“We’ve not had any major problems across all of seven provinces, voters were there although the statistics were quite slow throughout the day. Even at midday, we were not even at 50% turnout across the provinces – there was a really slow voter turnout,” Mosery said.
As the local government elections are set to take place later on in the year, adherence to Covid-19 safety protocols were among the commission’s top priorities, as the by-elections are seen as a test of how the commission will fare in dealing with larger numbers during the local government elections.
With the country on Tuesday reporting 130 Covid-19 deaths, the highest number of Covid-19-related deaths since March, Mosery expressed happiness at how voters had remained disciplined in protecting themselves and officials against the virus.
“The reports we are getting, from all sides, are very encouraging because the usual wearing of masks, social distancing and sanitising – those have been adhered to in a big way.
“In addition to those protocols, today we were also watching how the voters queue, the kind of distances they keep between each other in queues, so all in all, we are satisfied with the reports we’ve received so far,” Mosery said.
Mosery said that, of the 14 wards, four were from metro municipalities and that those accounted for between 15 000 to 18 000 voters, and the overall voters who had registered for the by-elections was 130 000.
Other wards participating in the elections are in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, North West, Northern Cape, Free State, and KwaZulu-Natal.
There were six by-elections in KZN, one in Mpumalanga, one in Limpopo, one in the North West, two in the Northern Cape, and three in the Western Cape.
In the Eastern Cape, the one by-election in ward 20 of the Buffalo City Municipality had to be cancelled at the last minute, due to a court interdict.
This came after the expelled ward councillor Ntombizodwa Gamnca had successfully interdicted her January 2021 expulsion, by Eastern Cape Cogta MEC Xolile Nqatha, as the ward’s councillor.
Gamnca’s expulsion followed a guilty verdict by the East London Magistrate’s Court, on charges of robbery and intimidation.