IEC crunches the numbers

After weeks of frenetic campaigning by political parties and independent candidates contesting the 2016 local government elections, Pietermaritzburg residents joined millions of voters around South Africa yesterday to cast their votes.
It’s all down to the wire today as the IEC verifies the numbers from the various polling stations. By most accounts apart from minor glitches voting proceeded smoothly. In the highly contested northern suburbs some wards had by 4pm already seen over 50% of registered voters casting their ballots.
A late afternoon rush of voters prompted IEC officials at the commission’s regional headquarters at 333 Church Street to deploy additional resources to cope with the influx. However, some people opted to line-up before polling station opened in a bid to beat the lines.
By 7.15 am at the Thandokuhle Crèche in Willowfontein, where ANC national treasurer general Zweli Mkhize cast his vote, the line had already reached 500 metres with some people making their way to the station by 3am.
Mkhize cast his vote along with his wife May. He said although he worked in Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg was his home.
“This area has a lot of sentimental value for me… my father and mother are buried here… it’s an area where I feel at home,” he said.
The DA’s mayoral candidate Mergan Chetty said the winner of yesterday’s election was a democracy, irrespective of who won.
“It is such an incredible feeling seeing that people in the community can freely vote and are not afraid to come up to me and show their support for the DA. There has been no animosity at all between the political parties and I am truly grateful for that because it shows that democracy has won in the city and that is a true sign of maturity. I feel confident about the elections and no matter the outcome of the votes, I am happy that we can live in a democracy,” said Chetty.
Independent Jaiheen Singh said he was looking forward to the outcome and was feeling ‘rather confident’.
“It has been a great turn out and I would say that sixty percent of voters have voted thus far. I have been getting positive vibes from community members in ward 30 and I expect many more people to vote later on,” he said.
ANC stalwart and out-going uMgungundlovu District Mayor Yusuf Bhamjee said apart from a few glitches which included malfunctioning scanners, voting proceeded smoothly in the northern suburbs.
“In some instances the IEC was caught napping in terms of the high voter turnout in the area but overall voters responded positively,” said Bhamjee. He said the DA, ANC and independents had run intensive ‘sophisticated’ campaigns and the final outcome would signal the wishes of the electorate.

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