SA ready to vote in crucial, ‘interesting polls’



Published May 26, 2024


PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa took a swipe at his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) at a rally ahead of Wednesday’s crucial national and provincial elections, saying he ran away from the ANC renewal.

Election fever reached it crescendo as the country’s biggest political parties, in a last ditched effort to drum up support, wrapped up their campaigns this weekend.

Addressing thousands of ANC supporters during its Siyanqoba Rally at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, Ramaphosa said those who could not stand the renewal of the ANC had left the governing party.

Bahambile ngoba babonile ukuthi irenewal ngempela abakwazi ukuthi ukuyimela baphumile baqambe imibutho yabo yemikokotelo (They have left after realising that they could not stand the renewal of the ANC and started their own fake political parties),” he said.

“The ANC is being renewed, revitalised and is beginning to function much more effectively,” Ramaphosa added.

According to Ramaphosa, the ANC government he hoped to lead after May 29 would stamp out corruption, steam ahead with the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI), which he signed into law almost two weeks ago.

He also promised the basic income grant (BIG) will be introduced through the R350-a-month social relief of distress (SRD) grant, which has since been increased to R370 monthly.

Further north in Limpopo, the EFF campaign was in full throttle replete with a motobike convoy at Tshela Thupa Rally at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

EFF leader Julius Malema promised voters that he would not be involved in any corruption should he become the country’s president.

He also pledged his loyalty to the constitution. “We will accept the will of the people of South Africa. Whatever the outcome, we will not have any query because we campaigned and no one stopped us.”

Malema presented what he described as a formidable team that includesd the party’s proposed finance minister Floyd Shivambu and KwaZulu-Natal premier candidate Marshall Dlamini to supporters.

He promised pensioners an old age grants of R4 000 and an increase in child support grants to R1 200. “I will do everything in my power to bring about economic freedom.”

Malema declared war on criminality and promised a crime-free country under EFF rule.

The DA holds a We Can Rescue SA Rally at the Willowmoore Park Stadium in Benoni, Ekurhuleni today (Sunday).

In recent months, several polls suggested ANC support was hovering around the 40% mark, which would represent a collapse from its performance in 2019, when it won 57.5% of the vote.

However, a tracking poll suggests ANC support has risen in the weeks leading up to election day. Analysts say the party has an unmatched grassroots campaigning machine, with activists going door-to-door in communities across the country.

Over the past four electoral cycles, the ANC's share of the vote gradually dropped, but never by more than five percentage points from one election to the next.

The EFF said in April it would partner with the ANC if it got the powerful post of finance minister. But analysts warned the ANC, which has not disclosed its thinking on any non-majority scenario, would be unlikely to agree to this unless it were hugely weakened.

Steven Friedman, an academic affiliated with the University of Johannesburg and Rhodes University, said it was hard to imagine the ANC and the EFF governing together for five years.

He cited their inability last year to agree on a constitutional change on land reform even though their positions on the issue are closely aligned.

Professor Zwelinzima Ndevu, director of the Stellenbosch University’s School of Public Leadership, told the Sunday Independent that he expected an interesting elections.

“We expect a huge turnout, to even go as far it will resemble 1994, [and] in my view the youth vote will play a critical part on the upcoming elections. It does look like the ANC will have a difficult time trying to retain their majority nationally,” he said.

The three main political parties are among 70 parties and 11 independent candidates contesting the elections, but only 15 parties are seeking representation in all tiers – the compensatory seats in the National Assembly, the nine province-to-national elections as well as the nine provincial legislatures.

Another 31 political parties will contest the national elections for the first time.

For the first time since 1994, each voter will be handed three ballot papers – a regional ballot to elect regional representatives to the National Assembly and will be contested by political parties and independent candidate. The second will be national compensatory ballot, which will be contested by political parties to determine only overall composition of the National Assembly, then there will a third provincial legislature ballot to elect members of the provincial legislatures and will be contested by both political parties and independent candidates.

On election day, the Electoral Act prohibits any person from holding or taking part in any political meeting, march, demonstration or other political event.

The only political activity allowed is engaging in casting a vote in the area within the boundary of a voting station.

Exit polls are also not allowed and cannot be published.

“During the prescribed hours for an election, no person may print, publish or distribute the result of any exit poll taken in that election,” states the act.

The Labour Relations Act makes provision for services provided by the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) to be declared essential services, which means strikes and lockouts on voting day by employees and employers in the public transport or telecommunication sector are prohibited and are not protected.

According to the election timetable, casting special votes will take place tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday between 9am and 5pm at 23 300 voting stations nationwide when nearly 1.7 million are expected to cast their ballots. Polling stations open from 7am until 9pm on Wednesday.

On Friday, IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya, said each voting station result undergoes rigorous audit authentication before being posted, ensuring accuracy and accountability.

“Our dedication to accountability is further evidenced by the measures in place to safeguard the credibility of election results. The capture and verification of results at each voting station, independent audits and real-time accessibility of data to stakeholders exemplify our commitment to integrity,” he said.

Moepya added that the IEC’s rapid response system stands ready to address any discrepancies swiftly and decisively.

“We refuse to compromise on the legitimacy of election outcomes. The acceptability of election results to all contestants is paramount, and we spare no effort in ensuring the integrity of the electoral process,” he explained. -addition reporting Reuters.