Everything on track for May 8 poll
It is all systems go for next week’s national and provincial elections, with 27,000 IEC staff to be deployed to Eastern Cape voting stations.
The electoral commission has teamed up with the government to ensure that it is prepared for anything – including natural disasters, service delivery protests and loadshedding.
About 51,306 police officers will be deployed at voting stations around the country on voting day, and the state has procured 30,000 LED lights in case Eskom implements loadshedding on the day.
The country’s 22,924 voting stations, 4,791 of them in the Eastern Cape, will open on Monday, when special voting starts.
IEC Eastern Cape electoral officer Kayakazi Magudumana said there were areas of concern in the province, where problems were experienced during the registration weekend.
“[The] challenges are due to community service delivery protests, [which] are spread across the province,” Magudumana said.
Asked if discussions had taken place with the authorities to ensure that the elections were not interrupted, Magudumana said: “We are in constant liaison with the security services and other departments are working closely with us to ensure that the elections are delivered to all the citizens of the province.”
At the national level, the IEC is liaising with disaster management teams to ensure that natural disasters‚ such as the floods that affected the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal recently, do not affect voting.
In April, Durban and Port St Johns were hit by floods that claimed more than 70 lives and caused damage of more than R1bn.
In a media briefing on Thursday‚ IEC commissioner Mosotho Moepya said rehabilitation work was under way in the affected areas.
“We have plans to work with disaster teams in provinces and with the police to enable us to get to voting stations that [would otherwise be] inaccessible,” he said.
Moepya said the commission had been assured by Eskom that there would be no load-shedding during the elections but it had made contingency plans for coping with localised power failures.
Commissioner Nomsa Masuku warned all groups planning to protest on the day not to interfere with citizens’ rights to vote.
“Even though the right to protest is protected in law‚ it is [against the law to] interfere with the processes of the electoral commission.
“So it is illegal to plan anything that is going to obstruct the electoral commission in performing its duty‚” Masuku said.
A total of 774,094 voters have been given permission to cast a special vote on Monday and Tuesday, 58.4% of them at home in the presence of election officials.
All special votes cast, along with all sensitive materials, including ballot papers, will be stored overnight at secure locations before being transported back to the voting station on election day.
The IEC said it was facing additional demands and pressure due to the record number of 76 parties contesting the general elections.
“The longer ballots have placed additional financial and logistical demands on the commission, including the requirement for more ballot boxes, redesigned universal ballot templates, and a refined focus on balloting education,” the commission said.
Voting stations will open at 7am and close at 9pm to allow the 26.7-million registered voters time to cast their ballots for both the national and provincial elections.