Power to the people: Historic elections since dawn of democracy

27.6 million South African voters make their mark at voting stations across the country. Voters will for the first time receive three ballot papers instead of two. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers

27.6 million South African voters make their mark at voting stations across the country. Voters will for the first time receive three ballot papers instead of two. Picture: Armand Hough/Independent Newspapers

Published May 29, 2024


In a historic election 30 years into democracy, 27.6 million voters will on Wednesday cast their ballots to usher in a new government.

Briefing the media on the special voting last night, chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the IEC was confident that all preparations were in place for free, fair elections.

“A key aspect of our preparations included engaging with various stakeholders which included political parties, independent candidates, the media, security and government structures at all levels, civil society organisations, community organisations, and the voters of South Africa.

“A number of state entities and municipalities are supporting the logistics of elections,” he said.

Mamabolo said all the 23 292 voting stations will open for voting at 7am and close at 9pm.

“It is important to emphasise that eligible voters who will be at the voting station at 9pm will be allowed to vote and not turned away.”

In an update on special votes that took place over the past two days, Mamabolo said 937 144 voters cast their special votes at 22 626 voting stations and home visits.

“This figure is much higher than was the case in the previous elections and augurs well for turn-out tomorrow (Wednesday),” Mamabolo said.

Voters who were unable to cast a special vote may still vote at a voting station at which they are registered today, he said.

Meanwhile, leaders of various political parties criss-crossed the country on Tuesday in their last-minute push to encourage voters to cast their special votes and also vote in numbers on Wednesday.

While much focus has been on the ANC’s national challenge, the Western Cape may prove a battleground with polls by Ipsos and the Social Research Foundation putting the support of the DA at 44% and 53% respectively.

On Tuesday, DA leader John Steenhuisen took his campaign to conduct oversight at voting stations in Delft accompanied by Premier Alan Winde and other party leaders.

Steenhuisen said they were going to keep the DA in power after the elections.

“Tomorrow is the big day, where you get a chance to play your part in the mission to rescue South Africa,” he said, adding that they could bring the Western Cape difference to the rest of South Africa.

“We can only do it if you use that pen on election day by putting the three crosses next to the DA on all the three ballot papers,” he added.

In the 2019 elections, the DA garnered 52.41% of the votes to take control of the province compared with 57.26% a decade ago.

ANC provincial spokesperson Khalid Sayed said since the DA began their “failed” 15 years in power, they have built one province for the rich and one for the poor.

“The ANC’s record in the Western Cape until 2009 demonstrated that in every area of service delivery the province was better run. We are therefore encouraging residents of the Western Cape to come out in numbers and vote for an ANC that will rebuild an inclusive province,” Sayed said.

RISE Mzansi premier candidate Axolile Notywala, whose party campaigned in Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, said: “We need to remove amasela (thieves). We need to remove the parties that don’t care. We need to vote for new leaders that care.”

Professor Zweli Ndevu of Stellenbosch University’s School of Public Leadership said the Western Cape was a battleground just as there was a contest at the national level.

The DA’s support would definitely drop because of the “new kids on the block”, he said.

Referring to the Patriotic Alliance, which pulled a surprise when it grabbed a ward form the DA in the Swartland Municipality last month, Ndevu said it was an indication that the party was losing ground in their traditional strongholds.

“That does not mean they will necessarily lose with a huge margin. There is a possibility that they might require coalition, it might be smaller parties,” he said.

As for the GOOD Party, Ndevu said its leader, Patricia de Lille, has always been seen as a person fighting for the causes of coloured people and women in rural areas.

“Over the years, her party lost ground in the strongholds.

“I don’t see her regaining any ground. It might be her mistake to be part of the government. “In a sense that made her to be part of the system, so people see her as part of the establishment,” Ndevu added.

Cape Times