Millions of South Africans exercised their right to vote yesterday, Wednesday May 8, in the country’s sixth democratic election.
There were long queues early in the morning when Vukani visited voting stations in Mfuleni and parts of Khayelitsha as residents braved the cold and rain to make their mark.
One of the longest queues could be seen at Mfuleni High School, however, it was moving smoothly.
Some citizens, including the physically infirm, the disabled and pregnant women, were also able to cast a special vote at home or at voting stations on Monday and Tuesday. However, some seniors were left disappointed because they did not know they had to apply for the special vote. Langa’s 72-year-old Elizabeth Siyeka, was one of those seniors who went to the voting station early, only to be told she was not registered for a special vote.
The unhappy Ms Siyeka said she was hurt that that she could not vote, even on Wednesday, as she was due to go for an operation at Groote Schuur Hospital. She said she thought as a senior she would automatically be allowed to vote ahead of the general election.
“I am very angry with what I am hearing here. I just came inside, and I could not cast my vote because my name does not appear on the special voters’ roll.
“This pains me. I was so looking forward to voting but, unfortunately, I cannot even vote tomorrow,” she told Vukani outside the voting station.
The misunderstanding happened in other areas too, where people could not vote. One woman in Luzuko, who asked not to be named, had the same problem.
However, the woman, who is in her 40s, said she thought the special vote was for those who are disabled, seniors and people who will be working on the day of the election.
“Unfortunately, I will be working on the day, and I am not going to come home and go to vote again. I will be tired by then. I thought I will make my mark, but it was not to be,” she said.
But in other voting stations Vukani visited, all was well. Many South Africans were able to find their name on the voters’ roll and made their mark.
Some residents were visited at home by IEC officials and were happy to have voted.
Among those was the Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mcebisi Skwatsha, who voted at Xolani Primary School in Gugulethu, on Tuesday March 7.
Just after making his mark, Mr Skwatsha expressed happiness and joy to have been back home to vote. He made a call to South Africans to use the opportunity to choose responsible leaders.
On the side of the voting station, Mr Skwatsha did not mince his words, saying he was there to support President Cyril Ramaphosa. “At least in his term you can see where the country is going,” he said.
He was hoping to convince voters to vote for his party, and said President Ramaphosa needs a strong mandate to continue with his renewal campaign.
A special vote allows a registered voter who can’t vote at their voting stations on election day, to apply to vote on a predetermined day before election day. By law, special votes can only be cast on the dates specified in the election timetable, and no exceptions can be made.
On Wednesday morning voting had a good start. Many people braved the rainy weather to cast their votes. In most stations that Vukani visited, Mfuleni and parts of Khayelitsha long queues were experienced even though it was raining. Mfuleni High School voting station was probably the one with longest queues but moving smoothly. Few turned up in Langa and parts of Nyanga with the hope they will turn up during the day.