/ 16 April 2004

ANC heads for 70%

With just over 88,2% of votes captured by early Friday morning, the African National Congress has nearly garnered 70% of the votes. With the preliminary count updated at 3am, the ruling party was heading the national race with 9,39-million of the votes counted, which translates into 69,67% — continuing to make gains on its apparent two-thirds majority.

The Democratic Alliance was second in line with 1,71-million or 12,74%, followed by the Inkatha Freedom Party with 840 573 or 6,24% and the United Democrative Movement with 302 787 or 2,25%.

The Independent Democrats was fifth with 250 820 or 1,82%, followed closely by the New National Party with 247 014 or 1,8%.

The African Christian Democratic Party had 1,67%, the Freedom Front Plus 0,97% and the Pan Africanist Congress 0,73%.

The race for top position was still on in KwaZulu-Natal, with the ANC leading with 45,97%. The IFP had 35,85% and its alliance partner, the DA, had 10,17%.

In the other contested province, the Western Cape — traditionally NNP territory — the ANC had 46,11% of the captured votes, the DA 26,92%, the NNP 9,44% and ID 7,97%.

The ANC held 66,02% of the vote in Gauteng, and the DA 22,85%.

The ruling party held 80,21% in the Eastern Cape, 81,39% in the Free State, 86,38% in Mpumalanga, 68,75% in the Northern Cape, 89,68% in Limpopo and 81,45% in the North West.

The cross

Nick-named the cross by IEC staff, a cross shaped bank of computers manned by IEC trouble shooters is the heartbeat of the national results centre in Pretoria and keeps the elections ticking over smoothly, the commission said on Friday.

Tasked with monitoring the flow of results being captured around the country, voting and results manager, Rushdi Nackerdien, said vote capturing in the various stations had slowed to a snail’s pace as exhaustion and fatigue set in.

“We have a women, Karen Ogle, in Durban who has been awake for 36 hours and has vowed not to sleep until the last vote is counted. But you can now tell she is tired when you talk to her over the phone,” he laughed.

By 4.30am on Friday, Nackerdien said approximately 93% of the votes had been captured and 87% fully audited. He said the Northern and Western Cape were completely finished but that other provinces still had a way to go.

The Eastern Cape by early Friday morning still had 91 voting districts outstanding, Free State had 127, Gauteng 149, KwaZulu-Natal 616, Mpumalanga 2, Limpopo 13 and North West province still had 161 voting stations to complete.

“Voting has slowed down to about 55 voting districts per hour, where as at its height, we had 2000 districts per hour rolling in,” he said.

He noted that while most rural areas had finished their lot quite quickly, large urban areas were lagging behind.

He said Johannesburg, Pretoria, Ekhuruleni [East Rand], Port Elizabeth and Durban still had a “fair bit of counting to do.”

“But we expect to complete the whole process within two days compared to the five it took during the last election,” he said putting the increased speed down to more efficient staff and better IT equipment.

Forming part of the cross, is a group of legal advisers who have been receiving queries from election officials in the field calling for advice.

Nackerdien said the most common calls concerned the Section 24A, which allowed voters outside of their registered area to vote.

He explained that other queries involved issues surrounding ID books, proof of registration and what legal forms were to be used and when.

“The tricky thing is taking the law and administering it,” he said explaining that many voters thought the IEC had made up laws just to make life difficult.

Also forming part of the cross was a group of four auditors whose task it was to match results from voting stations with those received at the centre.

Nackerdien said that in 1999, the IEC had used an extremely complicated auditing system than had really kept them busy.

“It was also very impractical. But now we have an auditor in every municipality.”

This, he said was a far more “credible and efficient way of doing it”.

Nackerdien said however, that most of the calls had stopped and things had become “quite boring”, especially in the early hours of the morning when not much capturing was being done.

“We then amuse ourselves by having personal competitions between all the staff of the cross. We each choose a province and then place friendly bets to see whose are faster,” he laughed.

Glum outlook for UDM and NNP

Bantu Holomisa’s United Democratic Party and the New National Party, led by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, appeared to be the big losers as the final counting for the 2004 polls drew closer on Thursday night.

The UDM surprised many during the 1999 election when barely 20 months after its formation it was among the ranks of South Africa’s four main political parties.

Many then believed the party might, in future, even become the official black opposition to the ruling African National Congress.

Two years after it was established, the UDM took official opposition seats in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo and gained seats in six other provincial legislatures, after the 1999 general election.

The party was seen as a threat to the ANC’s political heartland in the Eastern Cape as the province continued its slide into total chaos, troubled by a lack of service delivery.

The UDM’s growing support in the province was also noticed by former president Nelson Mandela, who tried unsuccessfully to persuade Holomisa to rejoin the ANC. – Sapa

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  • Special Report: Elections 2004