Glitches, hope and some bad weather: South Africans cast their votes

Although there were technical problems in parts of the country, South Africans came out in their numbers to vote on Monday.

Residents vote in Strandfontein on 1 November 2021. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The 2021 local government elections have officially come to an end, with voting stations across the country closing at 9 pm.

On Monday, voters at the biggest polling station in Soweto vented their frustration, largely at the government, while waiting to cast their ballots. Almost 20 thousand people were registered at ward 135 in Protea Glen. But in the last local government election in 2016, only 51% of them turned up.

Eighty percent of the population in that area is under the age of 30 and this has been fairly represented in the polls.

Community members said drugs were the biggest problem among young people and hoped the in-coming municipal officials would assist in solving the problem.

One woman said it was crucial for her to vote for change: "The issue of drug abuse...what are the interventions that they are making to ensure that families get restored, children get helped?"

She also said service delivery in her area was appalling: "You know for sure that you won't have water on Saturday, you have to make arrangements".

About 45 minutes away from Soweto, residents gathered at Orefile Primary School in Olievenhoutbosch to make their mark. Many hoped to see the ANC in power. They said they actively led their own door-to-door campaign, because they had enough of poor service delivery.

One of them even claimed that the tug of war between the DA and the ANC for Tshwane, left her neighbourhood in a bad state. Others insisted that their vote was their secret, refusing to reveal their preferred candidate or party.

In Mpumalanga, residents also exercised their democratic right to vote. But at the Eastdene Community Hall in Middelburg, voting was slow on Monday morning.

Former mayor and artist Ben Mokoena was one of the candidates and founders of the Middelburg and Hendrina Residents' Front, which was campaigning on a heritage ticket. The ward comprised Indian, white and predominantly black communities, and was heavily contested by a number of parties.

Mokoena said he was upbeat: "It is going well but you can never tell."

He also claimed that the ANC, which was battling divisions in the province, could do badly and this would benefit the smaller parties: "The ANC is having a tough day. Its campaign is dead, dead, dead".

The Residents' Front was established at the end of 2020. Although it hasn't yet won a ward, it managed to beat the Economic Freedom Fighters in its first by-election.

In Rustenburg, North West, people braved the heat to have their say at the polls. Voters at the makeshift station in Tlhabane, ward 11, said the process was quick and smooth.

Those sentiments were expressed in the the Western Cape as well. Things seemed to run relatively smooth, with only a few small glitches. Residents in Cape Town and parts of the province were confronted with grey skies and pouring rain on Monday morning.

The IEC had to make sure that some of its 35 temporary voting stations did not become waterlogged. Voters reported a few hitches with the voter management devices which were being used for the first time and replaced the old Zip-Zip machines.

But officials quickly moved to urge them not to wait until the last minute to cast their vote.

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