Voters grateful for special voting days

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Atamelang - Special voters in Tswaing who are physically unable to get to a polling station have expressed there gratitude for the opportunity to cast a vote in South Africa's General Elections.

Ananious Leponisa, 48, from Atamelang Village near Delareyville, who cannot walk, was one of the special voters who cast his vote on Monday.

He said he was grateful that he was able to cast his vote despite his condition.

"I was involved in a car accident which affected my legs. The doctor told me that I should not stand for a long time. I really wanted to vote for my party in this election because it is my democratic right and I did not want to waste my opportunity," he told BuaNews.

Mr Leponisa said that this year's General Election was very important to him because he wanted to vote for a party that would bring change in his community.

"I do acknowledge that a lot is being done in my country and feel that I must vote for a party that will develop my community were it needs to be improved," he said.

Although the community has many challenges such as unemployment, poverty and crime, Mr Leponisa was hopeful that the party he voted for will deal with the challenges effectively.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) those who qualify for a special vote include voters with physical disabilities, pregnant women, those absent on government service abroad, as well as election officials and security force members on election duty.

Those who applied and were approved to vote in the special votes are visited by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials in their homes.

Another special voter, Nini Galebodiwe, 27, who is pregnant, could not hide her joy as she cast her vote on Monday.

"I'm very happy I voted for my party of choice which I hope will respond to my needs as a young person," Ms Galebodiwe said.

She said at first she thought she would not be able to vote since she was pregnant but she was happy when she found out that the IEC had reserved special voting days for women in her condition.

"I did not waste any time in applying," she said, adding that it felt good to have voted.

Ms Galebodiwe's grandmother, Betha Galebodiwe, 84, is unable to walk due to old age. She said she was grateful to have voted and she hoped that the new government would continue to better the lives of the people in her community.

North West IEC Provincial Electoral Officer, Tumelo Thiba told BuaNews that the first day of special voting went well without any challenges.

"We visited some of the voting stations in the province and everything was going very well. We did not receive any reports that show irregularities in any of our voting stations," she said.

On Monday, the number of special voters in the province stood at 8 980. Dr Thiba said that the number of special voters can increase today as IEC staff and security personnel can also come in and apply to vote.

There are currently 238 726 registered voters in the North West, while in the Tswaing Local Municipality the number of registered voters are 50 048.