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IEC: Flaky landlords, bad weather and community protests, first day of special voting off to a rocky start

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Oct 30, 2021

The first day of special voting in the 2021 Municipal Elections has not gone as smoothly as the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) would have hoped. Isolated incidents, including adverse weather and community protests, were some of the setbacks suffered on Saturday, 30 October.

IEC FACED DIFFICULT FIRST DAY

IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo said overnight storms in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and North West blew away some voting tents in the respective provinces but they were replaced before voting stations opened.

“Overnight storms blew away tents in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KZN and North West but these were either reinstalled or replaced in time for the opening of voting stations,” said the CEO.

Another problem that faced the IEC on Saturday was that several landlords – the people that own the voting stations in some areas – reneged on their lease agreements at the last minute.

“Alternative arrangements were made in time and voting was not affected,” said Mamabolo. He was speaking from the IEC Results Operation Centre in Tshwane. “It is a concern. But it is not a matter that requires us to take legal action.”

PROTESTS

Community protests in parts of KZN and the Eastern Cape led to the closure of 13 voting stations.

In the Eastern Cape service delivery protests affected five voting stations, while in Umkhambathini, KZN, members of the community closed down eight stations because they want their local chief reinstated to power.

“There were threats received some time ago. The security cluster is aware. We had meetings before this but today to our surprise all our voting stations were locked,” said the IEC Regional Manager Khulekani Mdadane on Saturday morning.

“The staff is now intimidated, the community as well. That is the challenge. We could not open those eight voting stations.”

#sabcnews #sabckzn A hand note in all eight voting stations making threats that those who will disobey the demands will face the consequences. This led to IEC staff feeling unsafe. pic.twitter.com/20zF9L58OA

— Nonkululeko Hlophe (@Leko3) October 30, 2021

Mamabolo, however, said on Saturday afternoon that the affected voting stations would be opened and that law enforcement authorities have been notified.

“There are people in those communities who applied for special votes and they are entitled to the right to vote like all citizens. Working together with security services, we should be able to get voting going in those areas,” said Mamabolo.

The IEC CEO also encouraged long-weekend holidaymakers to return home to their voting districts and cast their ballots on 1 November.

The first day of special voting comes to an end at 17:00 on Saturday. Voting will resume on Sunday, 31 October.

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