Ex­tra po­lice brought in as Soweto bal­lot pa­pers stolen

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - CRAIG DODDS

HOPES of a peace­ful elec­tion day af­ter mul­ti­ple killings of coun­cil­lor can­di­dates – viewed as a symp­tom of vi­cious fac­tional di­vides within the ANC – got a boost this week when Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko promised 100 000 po­lice would be de­ployed.

A to­tal of 50 000 of the po­lice of­fi­cers would be at vot­ing sta­tions, af­ter the mur­ders of at least 20 can­di­dates, 14 from the ANC, in the run-up to the elec­tions.

Over the week­end, the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis- sion will move vot­ing ma­te­ri­als from provin­cial ware­houses to mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties for dis­tri­bu­tion to 22 612 vot­ing sta­tions, in­clud­ing a record 73.9 mil­lion bal­lot pa­pers, along with bal­lot boxes and vot­ing booths, in its big­gest lo­gis­ti­cal op­er­a­tion to date.

But se­cu­rity of the process has al­ready been called into ques­tion, with the con­firmed theft of bal­lot pa­pers en route to vot­ing sta­tions in Soweto yes­ter­day.

The DA im­me­di­ately called for the miss­ing bal­lot pa­pers to be in­val­i­dated and for in­creased po­lice pro­tec­tion of the pa­pers.

Spe­cial votes and home vis­its will take place on Mon­day and Tues­day, be­fore the big day on Wed­nes­day.

The ANC, tra­di­tion­ally a strong fin­isher in the fi­nal weeks of a cam­paign, will be hop­ing to fill the El­lis Park Sta­dium in Jo­han­nes­burg at its clos­ing rally tomorrow.

How­ever, it en­ters th­ese elec­tions more di­vided than ever, with ques­tions around the party’s abil­ity to mo­bilise its forces for the fi­nal push that has usu­ally helped it defy pre-elec­tion polling re­sults.

The bat­tle for the City of Jo­han­nes­burg will reach its dra­matic con­clu­sion this week­end, as both the ANC and DA pull out one fi­nal show of force.

The DA will throw down the gaunt­let to the rul­ing party in its strong­hold of Soweto this morn­ing, be­fore the ANC’s own Siyan- qoba rally tomorrow at El­lis Park sta­dium. The two events, as well as the EFF’s fi­nal rally in Lim­popo tomorrow, mark the cul­mi­na­tion of a bit­ter bat­tle for the hearts and minds of black vot­ers in par­tic­u­lar.

An­a­lysts agree the ground has shifted dra­mat­i­cally in th­ese elec­tions as the ANC feels the pres­sure of the pre­vi­ously un­think­able pos­si­bil­ity of de­feat in the Nel­son Man­dela Bay metro and tak­ing a huge knock in Jo­han­nes­burg and Tsh­wane.

That the ANC, and es­pe­cially Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, has for the

first time sin­gled out the DA for at­tack was a sign the gov­ern­ing party was feeling the heat, an­a­lysts said.

In pre­vi­ous cam­paigns it’s been no-go ter­ri­tory for the ANC to ac­knowl­edge the pres­ence of op­po­si­tion par­ties by name, be­cause it’s al­ways been, al­most elec­tion­eer­ing by it­self, in its own co­coon, said Pro­fes­sor Su­san Booy­sen, of Wits Univer­sity Grad­u­ate School of Pub­lic and De­vel­op­ment Man­age­ment.

“There is no more solid in­di­ca­tion of the ANC be­ing re­ally wor­ried than the ANC com­ing out and talk­ing specif­i­cally about the DA,” she said.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Dr So­madoda Fikeni said that the DA had con­sciously gone af­ter black vot­ers, who the ANC pre­vi­ously took for granted as be­long­ing to the rul­ing party, was re­sult­ing in “a kind of panic”.

The EFF, which has fo­cused its cam­paign on promises of bet­ter hous­ing, ser­vice de­liv­ery and jobs, white priv­i­lege and Zuma as an ANC weak­ness, will hold its fi­nal rally in Lim­popo – home prov­ince of its leader Julius Malema. craig.dodds@inl.co.za

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