South Africans make their mark

South Africa Cape Town 27-May-2024- Special votes being cast in 2024 general elections.Photographer Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

South Africa Cape Town 27-May-2024- Special votes being cast in 2024 general elections.Photographer Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published May 28, 2024


More than 26 million eligible voters are expected to cast their votes as the national and provincial elections kick off today.

About 1.6 million South African citizens who had registered for the special vote had the opportunity to make their mark from Monday, ending Tuesday.

However the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) raised concerns on Tuesday of unlawful conduct directed at its operations or against electoral officials.

Addressing the media on Tuesday at the Results Operations Centre in Midrand, IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo said that two people had been arrested for unlawful conduct, while the law enforcement agencies were investigating another two cases.

Mamabolo has hit out at forces working against the commission while trying to undermine its ability to conduct a free and fair elections.

This, he said, was being done through attacks, intimidation and the theft of election material.

Mamabolo said two people have been arrested for allegedly tampering with ballot boxes at two voting stations in Mpumalanga, with further incidents having been reported on the weekend.

“The commission welcomes and encourages vigilance by contestants and observers in the electoral process. However, such vigilance must be exercised within the confines of the law.

“Interference with the unfolding electoral programme, logistics, handlings or intimidation of electoral staff cannot be justified as vigilance. We further welcome all interventions made by our law enforcement agencies.

“Two arrests have been affected and at least two cases are being investigated by the SAPS for interference with electoral processes,“ Mamabolo said.

Mamabolo, who addressed the media on Tuesday evening about the outcomes of the two special voters day, revealed that there had been more than two incidents in which elections presiding officers were followed to their homes, as well as to places of storage where ballot papers were being kept before they were to be distributed to various voting stations.

“There have been incidents where followers or people who purporting to be from a particular political party have followed a presiding officer home under the cover of darkness and interfered with elections material. The commission finds this an egregious offence which undermines that officer’s dignity,” he said.

Mamabolo said looking at the recent developments ahead of the elections, there had been a concerted effort to undermine the work of the commission in order to ensure a particular outcome.

“It is clear looking at the number of incidents that there are orchestrated endeavours to undermine the work of the commission and outcomes. We must, as the commission, act in the manner that does not allow that to happen,” he said.

Mamabolo said the IEC was also ready to administer elections at all Correctional Services facilities throughout the country.

“Plans have been finalised with the Department of Correctional Services to ensure that eligible inmates can exercise their right to vote.”

The SA Weather Service forecasts fair to good weather conditions across the country, he said.

“However, necessary steps have been taken to manage the potential negative effect of inclement weather on the voting and counting processes.”

Power utility Eskom has given assurances that there were no plans for scheduled maintenance work or load shedding in the period around voting day, he said.

“Instances of power outages must be reported to Eskom in the normal course to enable effective responses.”

On Monday, the IEC conceded that there had been discrepancies and inconsistencies on the first day of the special vote.

“They were isolated incidents, Mamabolo said.

“At 9am there were no ballots at a voting station … A voting station would not have opened when there were no ballot papers,” he said.

“The challenges reported today are not comparable to the number of voting stations we have – we have 22 000 voting stations.”

Mamabolo thanked citizens who have co-operated with electoral officials

He said voting stations would on Wednesday open at 7am and close at 9pm.

He called on voters to refrain from taking photographs of their marked ballot papers.

“The commission remains concerned with incidents of unlawful conduct directed at its operations or against electoral officials. Accordingly, we urge all South Africans, including political party members and the public, to allow officials to carry out their responsibilities without hindrance.

“The commission urges all the remaining 26 million eligible voters to go out and cast their ballots on Wednesday.”