Gauteng voting stations ready for Election Day

Monday, April 20, 2009

Johannesburg - Its all systems go for Wednesday's Election Day as electoral material for South Africa's fourth democratic elections has already been dispatched to over 2 000 voting stations across Gauteng.

Briefing reporters on Monday, the provincial Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) provincial electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said 2 295 voting stations were ready for the casting of special votes on Monday and Tuesday as well as the General Elections on 22 April.

"All materials have been delivered to all permanent voting stations. This material includes voting compartments, ballot boxes, administrative forms, stationary packs and the voter's roll," said Mr Mamabolo.

Provincially 12.5 million ballot papers have been printed while the voter's roll constituted 1.6 million pages as well as 120 000 bottles of indelible inks.

The province has also erected 370 temporary voting stations in areas where permanent infrastructure such as schools, community halls or churches cannot be found.

"All the marquees were erected yesterday [Sunday] and are now operational as part of the service to voters with special circumstances. These temporary voting stations are also provided with tables and chairs, portable toilets and water," he explained.

He added that municipalities and power utility Eskom were providing electrification at these stations on Election Day so that this will not impede voting.

Gauteng has the largest voting population in the country standing at 5.5 million registered voters.

"This means that close to a quarter of the 23.1 million [currently on the voters roll] are to be found in the Gauteng province," said Mr Mamabola.

On the security front, the IEC said security plans are in place, conferring the confidence that all voters will be safe.

"Just over 1 400 police officers will be deployed across voting stations in the province. We're confident they'll be in a position to handle the situation," he said, adding that the province had identified potential "hotspots".

Some of the areas include the Brazzaville informal settlement near Attridgeville, west of Pretoria as well as Sebokeng and Thembelihle.

He said the number of police officials at the polls will depend on "threat level" of the area, adding that there will be a minimum of two police officials.

The Gauteng IEC was also urging employers in the retail sector to give staff sufficient time to go and cast their votes.

"We wish to advice employers in the retail sector to ensure that workers, casual or otherwise are given reasonable opportunity to go and cast their ballots.

"The constitutional right to vote is given further by the declaration of a public holiday on 22 April. So we want employers to come to the party," said the officer.