Voting proceeding smoothly in most provinces

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pretoria - Voting is proceeding smoothly for the fourth democratic elections in the country.

Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) spokesperson Kate Bapela told BuaNews there were a few delays in certain voting stations but those that did not open on time, were now gradually opening.

IEC Chief Electoral Officer, Adv Pansy Tlakula said at least 98.24 percent of polling stations opened on time in South Africa's fourth General Election.

"We have received reports that 19 121 of the 19 726 voting stations opened on time. Those that did not open on time were primarily temporary stations which were affected by challenges such the weather.

"This situation improves every minute. We are confident that those stations which did not open, will soon do so," she said.

In Moutse in Limpopo, where certain residents had demanded to be incorporated into Mpumalanga, the voting process was going smoothly without any violence or disruption.

IEC Communication Officer in the Eastern Cape, Pearl Ngoza, said all their voting stations opened on time.

Free State Provincial Electoral Officer, Jabulani Mepha said there were delays in the opening of 25 percent of their voting stations, but they were gradually opening as well. "Despite these delays, we can also confirm that potential voters in the province have shown a lot of enthusiasm," he said.

In both the North West and Mpumalanga provinces, all the voting stations were reported to have opened on time and the voting processes was also going well.

Godfrey Mjezu, IEC Communications Officer in the Northern Cape said: "Everything is fine in our province. No incidents have been reported since the opening of polls at 7am this morning.

Even though they were few delays in certain parts of the Gauteng Province, IEC communication officer in the province, Solly Kganyago confirmed that all the voting stations had now been opened.

Meanwhile, police in KwaZulu-Natal have arrested an IEC presiding officer in Ulundi after marked ballot papers were found at a polling station.

According to media reports, ballot boxes and ballot papers were being transported from Ekhombe to Nkandla on Tuesday night. When the delivery arrived in Nkandla at 8pm, two ballot boxes were missing.

Party agents in Ulundi reported that a person was in possession of completed ballot papers and in the process of putting them into the ballot boxes.

IEC officials at the Ulundi polling station alleged that an envelope which was supposed to contain 53 special votes had been found with 104 votes inside.

And in Qwa Qwa in the Free State, a presiding officer was wounded by an armed man, around 4am, while preparing his voting station.

He was shot in the leg by the suspect, who went away with a cellphone and some cash. The presiding officer was taken to hospital.

Authorities say the incident was an isolated one and not related to the elections.