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Elections 2016: Tension in Vuwani as polling stations remain closed on voting day

Voting stations in Vuwani, Limpopo, did not open on time on Wednesday and there were no signs that the local government elections there would get underway anytime soon.

Locals were fetching water and some had said that they would play soccer instead, due to their continued unhappiness about a Municipal Demarcation Board decision that affected their area.

They claimed the government did not consult them when incorporating their villages into a new, still-to-be-named municipality. They wanted to remain under the Makhado municipality.

Ditches had been dug across some roads in an attempt to prevent IEC officials from getting to the area. Police Nyala vehicles were parked on street corners.

Earlier, IEC officials took voting material to the Vuwani police station.

Co-operative Governance Minister Des Van Rooyen said he was encouraged and excited by the preparations that had been made to ensure the area was safe for people to vote.

Not voting was a constitutional right, he said, but it meant people would have no control over who was elected as their councillor.

“We are urging all people in the affected area to come out in their numbers and elect leaders of their choice,” he said.

Mediation efforts to address the unhappiness about the demarcation decision would continue, he said.

Residents, however, were sceptical about promises that their demands would be addressed after the elections. – News24

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