SA goes to the polls
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