WATCH: Makhura promises protesting Naledi residents he will talk to Gordhan about restoring electricity
Johannesburg - The Independent Electoral Commission says that the disruption to voting caused by a service delivery protest in Naledi, Soweto, during “Super Wednesday” by-elections led to a two-hour delay in the opening of two of the three voting stations in that ward.
Mawethu Mosery, deputy chief electoral officer, said that the stations were only able to function after 10am on Thursday, over two hours past the initial opening time for voting stations.
Community members had protested over a lack of electricity in the area for over five months and vowed to put a stop to the by-elections by blockading access to a primary school and a church used as voting stations if their electricity was not restored.
“The voter-turnout in those two particular stations was not looking good at all, and we could possibly assume that it was part of the protest by the community there. The third voting station in that ward was functioning very well, but we will see when we finalise the count what the voter turnout was there,” said Mosery.
The by-elections, hailed as the biggest taking place in one day in the country, were contested in 95 wards in 55 municipalities across South Africa, while a total of 609 133 voters were registered on voter rolls to participate in the elections.
The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi had earlier met with the community at a primary school in Naledi where community members had locked the gates to stop the by-election from going ahead and urged the community to exercise their vote by fixing the problem by voting out those who were not delivering.
ANC provincial chairperson and Gauteng Premier, David Makhura visited the area and met with the community and promised them that he would follow up with Eskom leadership and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on the restoration of power in Naledi.
“The elections will come and go, but the people still need access to electricity, and they assured me that by being here they were not fighting with anyone and they don’t need the police to be worried that they are going to be causing violence,” Makhura said.
On Wednesday, the ANC’s national spokesperson Pule Mabe urged its members, supporters, and all those eligible to vote, to head to the polls to “advance their democratic right by choosing councillors who will best advance the delivery of services in local communities.
“We call on all South Africans who will be participating in these by-elections across different parts of the country to adhere to health protocols and to maintain social distancing at different polling stations where voting is taking place,” Mabe said.
DA Federal Chairperson Ivan Meyer said that they had set their sights on winning in wards across the 55 municipalities nationwide.
“We are going to win by-elections all over South Africa. This is the time. Here in the DA, we are fielding candidates because we want real hope and real change now,” said Meyer.