LISTEN | Glitches, hiccups and arrests — but voting 'progressing well', says IEC

Voters queue in Khayelitsha to cast their vote during the 2021 local government election.
Voters queue in Khayelitsha to cast their vote during the 2021 local government election.
Image: Esa Alexander

Protests, inclement weather, arrests and electricity disruptions all marred the start of the voting day on Monday, the IEC said.

There was also one incident where a presiding officer in the eThekwini metro was arrested after allegedly stuffing marked ballots into a ballot box.   

When it came to community protests, the Eastern Cape was the worst hit, as 19 voting stations remained closed by midday. In KwaZulu-Natal, particularly in Camperdown and Umdloti, 20 voting stations did not open on time, according to the IEC.

In both the provinces, community members dug trenches across roads to deny IEC staff and voters access to voting stations.

“The commission, with the assistance of municipalities, was able fill the trenches and anticipates that the voting stations will be open later today [in Eastern Cape],” said the commission’s CEO, Glen Mashinini.

Despite these incidents, the commission said no major disruptions had been reported by midday. This as more than 3 million people vast their votes successfully. 

“The commission commends South Africans for coming out, as they continue to, in huge numbers to vote. Many voting stations have reported strong turnout from early in the day with many voters already waiting to vote before the 7am opening. We continue to urge registered voters to make their way to voting stations.

“In general, voting is progressing well across the country. The logistical arrangements as well as the voter management devices are holding well, on the whole. As at 12h30 over 3.5 million voters had already voted. We are able to report this because of the use of the voter management devices. The Commission is therefore satisfied with the voting process,” said Mashinini. 

Voting is scheduled to end at 9pm countrywide.

Asked how the commission would remedy the delay caused by community protests, the IEC’s Sy Mamabolo said they would assess the situation and make a pronouncement during the course of the day.

“The commission will make an assessment in those station and look at how many people are there [affected areas] and if there’s a necessity to make any other calls it will be made later,” he said.

Others incidents which had been brought to the attention of the commission by midday were:

  • In Gauteng, a Newzroom Afrika journalist was arrested at a voting station in Soweto. The commission could not provide the exact circumstances of the incident, which was also confirmed by SAPS. “After intervention of the commission, the journalist has been released and an investigation into the circumstances of his arrest will be instituted,” said Mashinini;
  • In KwaZulu-Natal, a presiding officer in eThekwini was arrested after allegedly stuffing marked ballots into a ballot box;
  • In Limpopo, hailstorm delayed the opening of voting stations in Giyani;
  • Also in Limpopo, an accredited observer was asked to leave a voting station for wearing a political party T-shirt. A process to withdraw the observer’s accreditation has started, the IEC said;
  • In Moretele in the North West, a member of a political party was arrested after he interrupted the voting process;
  • In Taung, also in the North West, the commission has laid charges against a presiding officer after he opened a ballot box that had been sealed; and 
  • In Northern Cape and Limpopo power supply disrupted voting despite the absence of load-shedding.

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