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ANC: Mayibuye, iWestern Cape!

Andisiwe Makinana

In the country's only province ruled by the DA, the ANC has made its presence felt, even well after closing time of the national elections.

By 9pm, a number of voting stations in Khayelitsha, Cape Town's biggest township, were still open and voters continued to stand in winding queues with the hope of casting their votes. (David Harrison, M&G)

Mayibuye iWestern Cape!

This was the rallying cry of the Western Cape ANC on election day as its members and volunteers enthusiastically sang, danced and continued to canvas for votes outside voting stations until well after 9pm in the black African areas in Cape Town.

The Western Cape and Cape Town are the only province and metropole governed by the Democratic Alliance (DA).

On Wednesday, the ANC hired minibus taxis to ferry its supporters to polling stations, in a bid to improve voter turnout in areas known to be its strongholds in Cape Town and provided food for “its volunteers”, who in turn sang, danced from street to street and called on potential voters to cast their ballots.

By 9pm, which is a closing time for voting stations, a number of stations in Khayelitsha – Cape Town’s biggest township – and in Philippi – the city’s largest informal settlement area – were still open and voters continued to stand in winding queues with the hope of casting their votes.

Turnout
Even in the areas where the voting stations closed on time, ANC supporters lined the streets singing celebratory songs, toy-toying and waving party flags.

ANC leaders congratulated each other for the impressive turnout – hoping that this would improve the party’s showing in this poll.

The ANC lost the Western Cape to the Democratic Alliance in 2009, when the DA won the province with just over 51% of the vote, and the ANC getting about 31%.

ANC sources said the emergence of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has posed a threat to the party as the EFF’s message and policies seem to target the same constituencies that had voted for the ANC in the past.

Overwhelmed staff
Voting didn’t go without glitches; police were called in to one voting station in Philippi early on Wednesday, mainly for crowd control.

Independent observer Nkosikhulule Nyembezi, from the national co-ordinating forum, a body made up of churches, traditional leaders and non-governmental organisations, said the problem was that the polling station at Bhongolethu Primary School opened late, at about 10am, and the staff had been overwhelmed.

He said that after discussions with IEC officials and party agents, it was decided that the provincial commission would reinforce its complement at the station, with roving staff to assist.

The police were called to control access from the school’s gate and not only at the entrance to the voting hall.

“They opened late and when they opened they were not able to cope with the voters. When we got here, they had put one ballot box [out], which took in both the national and provincial ballot papers, they also didn’t have the attire or T-shirts that make IEC staff easy to identify on election day,” said Nyembezi.

Minor delays
The station had just over 4 000 registered voters.

The IEC’s national leadership acknowledged on Wednesday night that there had been instances where longer delays were experienced, “but these were a minority”, said IEC chairperson, Pansy Tlakula.

The commission’s chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya described the incidents as “accidents”, saying that in the end all the affected voting stations had opened as the day went by.

Moepya denied that there were ballot boxes in the Western Cape that were not sealed. “That is not [in] our reports,” he said.

The Mail & Guardian visited about 15 polling stations in Khayelitsha and Philippi and spoke to a number of those who stood in long queues for hours to cast their votes.

Voting for jobs
Queen Baninzi, a pensioner who cast her vote at Bhongolethu, said she had arrived at the venue at 4am because she wanted to be among the first people to vote.

Baninzi, a street vendor, was aiming to kill two birds with one stone; casting her ballot and then manning her food stall at the station. She managed to do both successfully in the end, despite the delays.

A high number of other voters that the M&G spoke to hoped that their votes would bring them work.

Thandeka Ntlabathi (28) who stood in the queue with her 11 month old baby on her back in Enkanini, an informal settlement in Khayelitsha, was among those who voted in the hope that her party of choice would create employment for her.

Enkanini is one of the areas that have experienced a number of service delivery protests in Cape Town. Much of the area is still lacks electricity, and the voting station itself, at the Ark Educare Centre, was running on a generator.

Speaking to the M&G a few hours before closing time, ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said the party was happy with the voter turnout and the way things had proceeded.

Mjongile said the party had a few concerns, but not to the extent that the ANC would lodge a dispute with the IEC.


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