SA goes to the polls

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

NKANDLA — Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma yes­ter­day ditched his sta­tus as head of state and be­came an or­di­nary ci­ti­zen at the Ntol­wane Pri­mary School vot­ing sta­tion in Nkandla.

Pres­i­dent Zuma ar­rived to loud cheers as he got out of the ve­hi­cle, ac­com­pa­nied by three of his wives — Tobeka Madiba Zuma, MaKhu­malo and MaNgema — and a daugh­ter.

When Pres­i­dent Zuma ar­rived, his ID was checked be­fore he pro­ceeded to the next queue where he met with 101-year-old gogo Sizeni Mbambo.

The el­derly woman was elated when she saw Pres­i­dent Zuma. “I came here to see him,” she said, ul­u­lat­ing.

Zuma said he was happy to see that the woman, de­spite her age, still came out to vote.

The pres­i­dent hap­pily waited his turn in line, chat­ting away with the other vot­ers anx­ious to make their mark.

Mean­while, South Africans cit­i­zens de­cided to use vot­ing day as the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to protest, with flare ups oc­cur­ring spo­rad­i­cally through­out the coun­try.

IEC chair­per­son Glen Mashinini said they had re­ceived iso­lated re­ports of un­rest and com­mu­nity protests, par­tic­u­larly in some wards in the Eastern Cape. Mashinini said this in­cluded some vot­ing dis­tricts in Ward 16 in Nta­bankulu, as well oth­ers in Ward 8 in Amath­ole.

“Se­cu­rity forces had been de­ployed to en­sure vot­ing could start as soon as pos­si­ble in these ar­eas,” he said.

One of the wards was in Cam­bridge in East Lon­don where po­lice fired rub­ber bul­lets and had to use tear­gas to dis­perse res­i­dents.

Res­i­dents there burnt tyres and threw stones, de­mand­ing that ANC mem­ber Mbulelo Vula be the can­di­date for their ward and not the per­son listed on their bal­lot pa­pers.

“We want some­one who knows our prob­lems — the one we have re­ceived is from Ama­linda. We don’t know him,” said res­i­dent Ayanda Beda.

Sev­eral peo­ple were ar­rested as po­lice moved in to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion. One woman said her grand­mother was ar­rested as she was try­ing to vote. —

Nozuka Mgahuli told News24 she had just re­turned from the po­lice sta­tion af­ter giv­ing her frail grand­mother warm clothes. “I don’t know what to do. She has asthma. We told the po­lice she is sick,” she said.

IEC of­fi­cials sta­tioned at Gcobani com­mu­nity hall near Cam­bridge town­ship said they feared for their safety af­ter the com­mu­nity tried to torch the hall ear­lier. A small group of pro­test­ers ran away from po­lice af­ter they at­tempted to set the hall alight.

An IEC of­fi­cial said the protest­ing group came in through the back­yard and pushed their way through a hole in the fence.

“We were sit­ting here wait­ing for res­i­dents when we heard a loud noise. We went to search the other room and saw a large num­ber of young boys hold­ing paraf­fin. We shouted for po­lice and they ran away,” the IEC of­fi­cial, who wanted to re­main anony­mous, said.

The of­fi­cial told News24 they felt safer with po­lice in the area but feared that the pro­test­ers would come back. “We are scared. We don’t know if they will burn this place with us still in­side.” Po­lice fired rub­ber bul­lets and tear­gas at the pro­test­ers. ANC pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary, Os­car Mabuyane, called the protest an act of trea­son. Speak­ing to jour­nal­ists af­ter he cast his vote at Buffalo City Col­lege, Mabuyane said the protest was in­hibit­ing peo­ple’s right to vote.

“We can’t al­low any­one in South Africa to dis­rupt the elec­tions. Peo­ple must re­spect that. The in­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal is­sues must be ad­dressed by po­lit­i­cal par­ties.”

He said the ANC would look into coun­cil list is­sues be­yond elec­tion day. “The law en­force­ment must deal with these is­sues. Ev­ery­one has a right to vote. If you block­ade and in­fringe other the peo­ple’s right . . . It’s kind of a trea­son,” he said.

In Vuwani, Lim­popo, vot­ing sta­tions did not open on time. Res­i­dents didn’t look both­ered with some say­ing they would rather fetch wa­ter and play soc­cer than go and vote.

Re­fus­ing to vote was their way of ex­press­ing their un­hap­pi­ness with the Mu­nic­i­pal De­mar­ca­tion Board’s de­ci­sion to in­cor­po­rate their vil­lages into a new, still to-be-named mu­nic­i­pal­ity. — AP

South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and 101-year-old Ntol­wane Pri­mary School vot­ing sta­tion in Nkandla yes­ter­day. Sizeni Mbambo queue out­side the News24

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