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Cheerful voters braved a cold snap in South Africa's hotly contested fourth post-apartheid elections yesterday, with the notorious KwaZulu-Natal province the only one to report major problems.
"A carnival mood is prevailing across the country," said chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula, adding that more than 98percent of the 19726 voting stations countrywide opened on time at 7am.
Voters, unfazed by the first winter cold, turned up in their droves.
President Kgalema Motlanthe was among the first to cast his vote and urged South Africans to participate.
Twenty-three million South Africans are registered to vote.
Independent Electoral Commission chairperson Brigalia Bam seemed mainly concerned about the cold weather, especially in the Eastern Cape.
"Especially in Kokstad ... it is so cold, those poor people, but at least there is no flooding," said Bam.
However, many were unperturbed by the weather, with residents of Dysseldorp outside Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape, saying the cold wind they had to brave was nothing compared to what they had seen on television, with voters apparently queuing in the rain elsewhere in the country.
Dysseldorp supporters of the ID were dancing and singing, "Wie's jou baas? Wie is jou baas? [Who's your boss?]" while others looked on, enjoying the festive mood.
At Diepsloot informal settlement North of Johannesburg, Zimbabwean food seller Grace Ncube, 27, said she envied South Africans.
"I wish I was a South African," she said. "I can tell you, I envy the South Africans because elections here have always come and gone smoothly."
In Northern Cape, about 80 out of 422 registered voters of the Afrikaner enclave Orania had visited the voting station by 10am. - Sapa