Counting of votes begins after long queues, technical problems

Henry

The process of counting millions of ballots is underway after South Africans queued until late into the night on Wednesday to draw a cross in a watershed election that could bring the ANC’s 30-year undisputed rule of the country to an end.

The counting of votes at each polling station began shortly after the polls closed – in some places much later than the 9:00 pm cut-off time with long queues of voters winding in the dark night.

The final result is not expected before the weekend, but observers are keeping a close eye on the numbers that are starting to trickle in to get an indication of whether the ruling ANC has lost its parliamentary majority.

If pres. If Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC falls below the 50% mark for the first time, it will force him to take coalition partners on board to form a new government.

The Electoral Commission says a sharp increase in voters at the eleventh hour is responsible for the late completion, but many voters complained about technical problems, a lack of ballots, a chaotic system to check names on the electoral roll, voting devices that did not work properly not – and the fact that the three ballots that voters got this year were simply too complicated.

“We experienced a late surge and processed a large number of voters,” Sy Mamabolo, head of elections, said during the night.

The IEC expects the final voter turnout to be “much more” than the 66% turnout recorded in the last election.

Voters from across the political spectrum reported to polls; some with the hope of getting rid of the ANC with an opposition alliance, and others perhaps with the hope that a coalition government can be imposed.

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Ramaphosa visited Soweto on Wednesday with his wife, Dr. Tshepo Motsepe, went to vote and insisted “the people are once again going to put their trust in the ANC to continue to lead the country”.

However, John Steenhuisen, DA leader, expects that no single party will achieve an absolute majority and that this will create a gap for his party – and the alliance of smaller parties.

“For the first time in 30 years there is the opportunity for change in South Africa,” he said after going to vote in Durban.

Opinion polls show that the ANC can get as little as 40% of the vote, a significant drop from the 57% the party got in 2019, but no opposition party is expected to get more than 25% of the vote.