Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Today's Voting Experience

As promised, your correspondent did it the hard way today. First up was the 'rural long distance walk' or in this case it was the urban version...

Beginning with second look in at Charter House (Little Falls) where it was still fairly quiet, no more than 70 people. Then down to Panorama Primary School (Voting Station for Weltevreden Park) where it was very quiet. no more than 7 vehicles outside (as well as another 6 belonging to election officials and party personel). Inside were no more than 15 voters. (11h30 SAST approx).

What was very clear from the publicity banners outside the venue, and in the surrounds, was these are both strong Democratic Alliance (DA) wards. At Panorama, a solitary sign for the ANC on the back of a party vehicle, and a lonely looking couple representing the Freedom Front, one would have though suspected there were any other candidates for this ward.

On to my own voting station (Northcliff High - Berario), a further 10km walk away, arriving around 13h20. More signs of life here. A queue of some 80 voters in line, with as many arriving as leaving. According to IEC officials, this had been the pattern for most of the day.

A very pleaseant atmosphere greeted your correspondent. Good humour, smiles, and friendly conversation with those in-line. Clearly, many voters in this ward are concerned enough about the state of affairs in this city (Jhb), as the turnout appears to have been good. This impression suported by the conversations.

Cast My Vote! Marked The Ballot!

Then the return journey. Decided to deviate from the intended return walk back to the office as time was pressing, so reasoning that the next station to call was around 10 km, the distance covered on foot (once the deviations to the other pollong staions was considered) would equal a there and back walk, head of up Beyers Naude Road to Zandspruit.

Over the past months, Zandspruit residents had threatened to boycott this election in protest over service lack of delivery (Even trash is seldom collected in the area.

Arrived there around 15h45. (Yes, your contributor sets a brisk pace) Surprisingly peaceful, although there was an air of tension, perhaps perceived more by the strong police presence than the mood of the locals... But no harkback to the war zone of Zwide and New Brighton in 1976.
This m'Lungu did get a few quizzical looks and one or two remarks for being there.... This was also the first time not being admitted to the polling area. Ubderstandable with the heightened security (at each of the other stations there was just a single policeman on duty, here they were out in force...). However an IEC official ouside the station was willing to comment to the effect there had been more voter turnout than one might have been led to believe by the activists previously, although they expected overal participation to be low.

Then as mentioned; it was time to use the 'public' transport - the minibus taxi. However, it was now after 16hoo, so it was time to call it a day, and get back to the office. A taxi from Zandspruit to the Honeydew Shopping centre, to get some refreshment, and where a kind owner of an internet cafe allowed my to use the net for 10 minutes, from where I posted the 'Zille outraged' article.

A 30 minute wait for a second taxi, folowed by another 4 km walk back to the office, where this insert is being written.

By Baba Sizwe, writing from Johannesburg, South Africa

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