In pictures: Democracy in action


By GroundUp

There were long queues in many places, delays with faulty equipment and even confusion about polling stations, but millions of South Africans marched to vote on Wednesday. It was democracy in action in every corner of the country.

Residents of Enkanini in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, braved the dreary weather early in the morning to go vote.

Many voters complained about long queues and extremely long waiting times to draw their crosses. Some waited in line for as long as six hours. Moreover, at a polling station in Johannesburg, ballot papers did not arrive until after 09:00, while polling stations had to open at 07:00.

A group of young men apparently sawed down trees on Tuesday evening and dug a ditch across a dirt road in Mpotshotsho, a coastal town near Port St. Johns, dug to prevent voters from going to vote at the Maggie Senior Primary School.

According to residents, it was part of a demand for new taps and a new road.

Khayakazi Magudumana, the Electoral Commission’s (EC) manager in the Eastern Cape, confirmed that the school was one of five polling stations that had still not opened by lunchtime on Wednesday. Police officers, many in riot gear, tried to secure access to the polling station. According to Magudumana, most of the protests were related to service delivery.

In the Phumla Mqashi informal settlement, south of Johannesburg, the police had to intervene in a dispute between voters and IEC officials after ballots were not available and the election process was temporarily suspended. By 11am there were still no ballots. Many voters complained that they had to get to work.

Two girlfriends from different political camps greet each other at a polling station in Harare in Khayelitsha. Their political views may not align, but both showed up to draw their crosses.

Boys look at army vehicles on patrol in the Makhaza settlement in Khayelithsa. The army was deployed in various areas on polling day to ensure the safety of voters and IEC officials.

A prisoner in the Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town shows his marked left thumb after he and numerous other prisoners also took part in the election on Wednesday.

A female prisoner in Pollsmoor prison crosses her cross. She was one of more than 14,000 inmates at correctional services facilities who registered to participate in the election.

Children play in the streets of Rustdene on Beaufort West in T-shirts from the Patriotic Alliance (PA). Voters from the PA maintained a significant presence at polling stations in this town.

An ANC supporter finds his way to a polling station at De Rust in the Karoo.

On Klaarstroom in the Karoo there were clearly two camps: that for the DA and that for the PA.

The Silverkaroo paddock on the N12 has been converted into a polling station. Voters could enjoy coffee and milk pie on the porch while voting continued.

A party agent from the ANC sits outside a polling station on the N12 between Beaufort West and Oudtshoorn.

Voters outside the Tholamandla Primary School in KwaMashu, Durban, ready to draw their crosses.

An IEC officer directs voters in a direction to draw their crosses in one of three classrooms at a school in Masiphumelele, Cape Town. Voters are sorted alphabetically, with the letters of the alphabet written on the back of a piece of cardboard voting booth.

The independent candidate Zackie Achmat – accompanied by his dog – throws his ballots into the box at a school in Cape Town. Independent candidates were able to take part in the national election for the first time and Achmat was the only one to reach the Western Cape ballot.

Alan Winde, Prime Minister of the Western Cape, waited in a queue for about two hours to draw his cross. Winde says he is grateful that at least it didn’t rain like during the previous election.

A mobile office of the Department of Home Affairs near the Zusakhe polling station in Cape Town was on the scene to provide temporary IDs for voters. This was especially done for residents of Doornbach who lost their possessions earlier in a fire.

Voters line up next to water-filled potholes in Cape Town.

The IEC’s results center in the Western Cape was a hive of activity on Wednesday.

“It is said that the political life of a democratic South Africa has rarely been polite, orderly or subdued. It has always been loud, rowdy and tense. Just as much as our Constitution ensures freedom of expression, just as much behavior that prevents a free and fair election and the rights of voters is frowned upon,” said Michael Hendrickse, the Western Cape Chief Electoral Officer.

Many dogs queued up with their owners to vote. Here a dog waits at a polling station in Enkanini, Khayelithsha, to return home.

  • This post was originally posted by GroundUp and is used with permission.