Political parties have put up posters to attract people to vote for them on the upcoming election. Picture Bongani Mbatha / African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - CLEAR skies and tight security await voters on Wednesday.

Security forces have been deployed around the country, voting stations open tomorrow and 774000 people who qualified for special votes can do so at polling stations or by special arrangement at home from 9am.

At least 22924 voting stations and 1059 tents would be pitched in areas where there were no suitable permanent structures.

KwaZulu-Natal’s 4485 voting stations would take delivery of their 13million ballot papers tomorrow.

In total, 48 parties would contest the elections nationally and 31 parties would contest in KZN.

During this year’s ballot, voters would have the opportunity to choose their preferred national and provincial parties.

The Independent Electoral Commission’s KZN spokesperson, Thabani Ngwira, said a voting station in Umzumbe Municipality was damaged in the recent floods and they would therefore be using a tent. Police would assist in the Nkovukeni area in Manguzi Municipality where the only way to reach a polling booth was by crossing a hippo-infested lake.

He said provincial disaster management would erect temporary facilities to cross rivers where bridges were destroyed in heavy rains.

“Together with the government, we have a plan to deal with the difficult areas because of weather on voting day,” said Ngwira.

However, meteorologist Stacy Colborne yesterday predicted warm, sunny weather until Thursday, when there was a 30% chance of light rain.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said thousands of officers would be deployed to protect voting stations and extra security be stationed in volatile areas.

Cele said plans were in place to deal with any disruptions and more than 51000 officers would be deployed across the country to secure the voting stations.

Between six and eight officers would be deployed at each station situated in a high risk area.

Ndwedwe, uMzimkhulu and some areas in eThekwini were identified as hot spots by the Electoral Commission of SA.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu also vowed to bring in the army to maintain law and order if needed.

In the past week, eThekwini Municipality has been rocked by violent protests related to contracts which resulted in damage to infrastructure totalling millions of rand.

The province also saw other service delivery protests which led to the destruction of property.

Ngwira said: “Ballot papers have been delivered to local offices and trucks were escorted by the SAPS in view of the burning of trucks that has been happening in the province.

“They would then be taken from the local offices to voting stations with a police escort.

“Two areas have reported difficulty with road access to voting stations - Ugu and eThekwini municipalities. Local offices and the police working on contingency measures to transport the ballot papers.”

Polls conducted by market research firms Ipsos, MarkData and the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) indicated the ANC was in for its biggest test yet since it came into power in 1994.

In the latest polls conducted between March and April, Ipsos found the ANC would come in at 61%, the DA would get 19%, the EFF 12% and the IFP 3% of the vote.

MarkData predicted the ANC would win by 59%. However, the IRR found the ANC’s support would slip to 49.5%, the DA would get 21.3% and the EFF 14.9%.

The IEC confirmed more than 70 global observer organisations would monitor the elections, with some from the Southern Africa Development Community.

Sunday Tribune