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20 Apr 2009 17:15
The African National Congress (ANC) will send 17 000 agents to voting stations in KwaZulu-Natal to observe the country’s fourth democratic elections, provincial party chairperson Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Monday.
“It’s the first time the ANC had to put party agents in every single voting station,” he told journalists at the party’s provincial headquarters in Durban.
The agents would be there to ensure there were no problems on election day.
“We want to see everything that’s happening ... After the election we don’t want to cry foul ...
that’s why we want to ensure nothing happens,” he said.
Meanwhile Gauteng, the province with the largest voting population of 5,5 million is ready for action, the Gauteng Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said on Monday.
“The province is operating 2 295 voting stations which include 57 from the recently incorporated Merafong municipality,” provincial electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said.
Gauteng made up close to a quarter of the 23,1 million nationally registered voters.
Out of the 53 million ballots printed nationally, 12,5 million were to be used in Gauteng.
A total of 28 458 electoral staff were running the provincial voting process.
Mamabolo said all 1 925 permanent voting stations were now accessible to the IEC, after lease agreements were finalised.
Some 370 temporary voting stations were established where suitable permanent facilities, such as a school, community hall or church, could not be found.
Marquees were erected at these sites on Sunday and all have tables, chairs, portable toilets and a water supply available.
“Municipalities and Eskom are providing electrification at these temporary voting stations ...
By Monday, all materials, including voting compartments, ballot boxes, administrative forms, stationery packs and a copy of the voters’ roll had been delivered to all permanent voting stations.
Security items, including security seals, tape, indelible ink and ballot papers, were being delivered to voting stations under security escort.
“We are confident that we have acquired the right material for use at voting stations at [the] right quantities.
“We therefore do not anticipate any logistical problems in terms of the level of provisions that is done,” Mamabolo said.
Presiding officers had been recruited according to criteria which ensured they did not have official connections to political parties and had sufficient administrative experience.
All presiding officers also underwent two days of training and a competency assessment.
Special queuing arrangements would be made to ensure there were no bottlenecks.
Technology used, such as the zip-zip scanner, would also ensure the process went smoothly.
Security would be provided to ensure both the stations and the routes were safe for voters and no disruptive behaviour would be tolerated.
“We advise members of the public that no arms will be permitted at voting stations.
“Those who turn up at the voting stations under the influence of alcohol will be turned back.”
Mamabolo said voting for people with special circumstances was underway at all the province’s voting stations on Monday.
The municipal offices in the province had received a total of 14 952 applications for home and hospital visits which would be undertaken on Monday and Tuesday.
Security service officials and electoral staff could also vote over the next two days.
Mamabolo said all employers in the retail sector had to give their workers the opportunity to vote as election day was a public holiday.
“Elections represent a unique opportunity where ordinary citizens shape the future of their country.
“....We believe our planning and execution are impeccable and we will serve voters with honour and due dignity,” Mamabolo said.
Ballot papers found in Mpumalanga
The IEC will investigate reports that ballot papers for election day had been found in Mpumalanga, chairperson Brigalia Bam said on Monday.
The papers were allegedly found on Sunday in a main road in Mpumalanga by a Democratic Alliance member.
“It’s not really a crisis for us ... because of the security measures that we have.”
While not outlining all the security measures, Bam said they included serial numbers, which allowed the IEC to differentiate its own ballots from any others that may have been circulated.
It was not immediately known how many ballot papers had been found. However, this would be investigated, said Bam.—Sapa
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