Johannesberg, Nov 2 : South Africa‘s local government elections, the sixth since 1994, proceeded well despite protests in some communities with more than 3.5 million people casting their votes by 12:30 p.m., said Independent Electoral Commission Chair, Glen Mashinini.
“Voting is progressing well across the country. The Commission commends South Africans for coming out in their large numbers so early in the morning,” he said at a media briefing in Pretoria, noting the majority of the 23,148 voting stations opened on time, with some irregularities reported in dozens of polling stations.
He touched on some incidents that affected the start of voting, especially in Mdloti and Camperdown in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) and the Eastern Cape. The 20 voting stations did not open on time in KZN due to community-related protests while 19 voting stations did not open due to community protests in the Eastern Cape.
“In all incidents, communities dug trenches to deny Commission staff and voters access to the voting stations,” he added.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga believed that the elections were off to a good start, saying community protests “reflected the political system”.
“A good start might show that the campaigning worked or it could be anger against some
parties,” he told Xinhua.
Speaking about the protests which delayed the opening of voting, he said communities understood they would be listened to if extreme measures were taken, Xinhua news agency reported.
Several leaders from different political organizations voted earlier in their communities.
President Cyril Ramaphosa voted at Hitekani Primary School in Chiawelo, Soweto, accompanied by first lady Tshepo Motsepe.
“I’d like to suggest that municipal services are going to be done differently from now on,” he spoke to media after voting. Ramaphosa also stressed the importance of improved communication between communities and elected officials.
Former President Thabo Mbeki cast his ballot at Holy Family College in Johannesburg and hoped that other registered voters would also do the same.
“We all need our people to vote and express their views as to who they want to govern the municipalities,” he said.
Local government elections were expected to be highly competitive with several metropolises governed by coalitions.
Monday’s voting started at 7 a.m. and would continue until 9 p.m., local time.