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No major incidents reported in South
Africa general election special vote

by Zodidi Mhlana JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- Over 774,000 South Africans who have applied to cast special vote began voting on Monday, with only a few minor incidents reported, according to the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).

IEC’s spokeswoman Kate Bapela said that the majority of voting stations opened on time for the voting exercise.

"Among minor challenges reported by election officials included late delivery of some election material, late minute pitching of tents and non-arrival of election staff due to illness," she said.

Meanwhile, a total of 452,418 special voters would be visited at home by voting officials.

Home visits are provided for those voters who have infirmities or disabilities and pregnancy and who can’t visit voting stations, Bapela said.

Those who would not be in their voting stations or be away on the day of election on Wednesday also participated in special voting.

Bapela added that the IEC has prepared and made plans for voting officials who might be absent on any voting day.

She added that voters must make sure that they receive national and provincial ballots that are stamped at the back, as unstamped ballots do not count.

Special vote stations open at 09.00 a.m. till 05.00 p.m.


South Africa major parties battling out ahead of elections

by Zodidi Mhlana JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- With over 26 million South Africans expected to head to the polls on Wednesday, three major political parties have intensified their campaigns to woo voters, especially those still undecided.

This is South Africa’s sixth general national election since the first one in 1994.

With various polls showing that no political party would get an outright majority win in South Africa’s economic hub Gauteng province, parties shifted their focus on the province this past weekend.

Both the African National Congress (ANC), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) held their major rallies on Sunday in Gauteng, while the Democratic Alliance (DA) hosted its rally on Saturday as they are attempting to garner major support in the province.

The latest poll by the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) has shown the ANC would receive over 53 percent of votes nationally, with the DA likely to obtain 24 percent and the EFF 14 percent, if the turnout is 70 percent.

IRR’s head of politics and governance Gareth van Onselen said the remaining time was crucial for parties to consolidate support.

"Also, this poll is not a prediction.

"There is still fluidity, especially where the ANC and EFF are concerned.

"Final days could see some movement," van Onselen said.

Political analyst Shadrack Gutto told Xinhua that the ANC could no longer rely on its glorious past to win support, but it should root out corruption and widespread looting that became a norm under former President Jacob Zumba’s administration.

"The balance of power is not on the ANC’s favor in Gauteng.

"This is a party of Nelson Mandela, OR Tambo, but young people are not keen on voting for the past," he said.

"The party can’t be resting on the laurels of its past leaders."

Polls predict that the EFF is the only political party set to grow its support during the elections.

Established six years ago by former ANC Youth League President Julius Malama, it obtained over 6 percent of votes in its first election in 2014 and its support is predicted to be at 14 percent this time.

The DA is likely to grow its support by 2 percent from its 22 percent previous performance.

Gutto cited EFF’s great mobilization ability and young leadership as some of the reasons behind its growth.

"EFF has been great at mobilizing at grassroots level.

"They have been able to reach out to the youth voters because they are led by the youth," Gutto said.

He said the party has been able to "invigorate parliament."

Some have expressed concerns about the dwindling number of young people participating in this year’s election.

During registration period, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) visited universities’ campuses to encourage young people to vote, but the number of the youth registered to vote has declined since 2014.

There are 341,236 youth between 18 and 19 registered to vote on Wednesday, but this figure was at 643,133 in 2014.

Among those aged between 20 to 29, it has decreased from 5,759,236 to 5,299,297.

Gutto said that socio-economic problems mostly impacting the youth were to be blamed for the decline.

"Young people are dissatisfied.

"Corruption is going up, unemployment is growing and it affects the youth.

"They are the one’s entering the job market," he said.

Meanwhile, the IEC said the record number of political parties set to contest in the May 8 election has placed "demand and pressures" on it.

South Africa’s current electoral system permits people to be chosen as public representatives on political party tickets and not as individuals.

"It’s a political party that then chooses its leader of the country through the propositional representation system," Gutto added.

As voting nears, IEC has urged calm and vigilance, saying parties should ensure that elections take place without any disturbances.

Domestic and international observers to monitor the elections have been deployed.

Parties contesting the election would be permitted to deploy two party agents to oversee and monitor the voting process and counting.

South Africa largest union federation rallies support for ANC ahead of elections

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s largest union federation on Monday called on all workers and South Africans in general to come out to vote for the African National Congress (ANC) in the upcoming elections.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is throwing its full weight behind the ANC in the 2019 national and provincial elections, scheduled for May 8, COSATU national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said.

"The ANC’s record in government and a comparison of the ANC election manifesto with those of all the other parties make it quite clear that it is the only force that can take forward our national democratic revolution and complete the transformation of South Africa," Pamla said.

Although COSATU has at times disagreed with the ANC-led government over certain issues, the government has a proud record of success in building a democratic South Africa and improving the lives of the majority, he said.

COSATU, together with the South African Communist Party (SACP), has been a coalition partner with the ANC since 1994 when the ANC first came to power.

At its 13th National Congress last year, COSATU, which has more than 3 million members, reaffirmed the federation’s solid support for its old ally.

The coalition was once on the brink of collapse due to deepening difference among the three parties, but after Cyril Ramaphosa took over Jacob Zuma as ANC president late last year, COSATU mended ties with the ANC.

The SACP has also called on its members to vote for the ANC.

"Our occasional differences are nothing compared to the gulf that separates us from such parties as the Democratic Alliance, which would like to put the ANC’s reforms into reverse and pursue policies that would deepen rather than reduce the inequalities in our society," Pamla said, referring to the main opposition coalition.

"Our task now is first and foremost to make sure that the ANC wins a comprehensive victory, nationally and in every province," he said.

Trade unions, civic organizations, nongovernmental organizations and the ANC itself have to be strengthened so that they can push from below to assist the government to overcome any resistance to its policies, Pamla said.

Members of Parliament and cabinet ministers have to play a leading role in transformation but they cannot do it alone, he said.

Under the ANC leadership, South Africa has achieved massive advances in winning democracy and human rights and has started to improve the lives of the majority, but more needs to be done to achieve a similar improvement on the economic front, where the structure of society has changed little since the apartheid days, Pamla said.

Wealth is still concentrated in the hands of a tiny rich elite who own and control the all-powerful banks and mines, while the majority still suffer from mass unemployment and poverty and far too many communities still lack the basic essentials of life, according to Pamla.

"COSATU will do everything in its power to make sure not just that the ANC is victorious but that the votes it receives are repaid in real improvements to our lives," he said.

South African government implores employers
to allow workers to vote in upcoming elections

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African government on Tuesday appealed to employers to allow workers to exercise their democratic rights through voting in the upcoming elections.

Employers who force employees to work on election day are denying them their constitutional and democratic right to vote, thus violating the Constitution, Labor Minister Mildred Oliphant said as the country is set to hit the polls on Wednesday.

The minister was responding to numerous complaints received by the Department of Labor that certain employers want to force workers to work on the election day.

The election day was declared a public holiday recently by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

"I therefore, encourage employers to release workers on Wednesday to go and exercise their democratic and constitutional right in casting their vote," Oliphant said.

In the elections, a new National Assembly and provincial legislatures in each province will be elected.

The elections, the sixth since the end of apartheid in 1994, will also determine who will become the next president.

Ramaphosa will lead the ruling African National Congress, with the party attempting to retain its majority status and secure Ramaphosa a full term in office as president.

Also on Tuesday, South Africa’s Parliament encouraged South Africans who are eligible to cast their votes.

All the citizens should play their part in ensuring that the election be free and fair, said the Parliament in a statement.

"Your vote tomorrow is your only opportunity to choose who will represent you for the following five years nationally, in the National Assembly, and provincially, in the provincial legislatures," the statement said.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the number of eligible voters for this year’s elections stands at 26.75 million, representing a 1.3 million increase from the number of people who registered to vote in 2014.

Zimbabwe ruling party forecasts ANC’s win in South African elections

HARARE Zimbabwe (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party has tipped South Africa’s ruling ANC to win the May 8 general elections and maintain its stranglehold on the country’s politics.

ZANU-PF secretary for information and publicity, who is part of the party’s delegation to observe the elections, said the ANC was poised for victory.

The two parties enjoy cordial relations as former liberation movements which led their countries to independence.

Former finance minister and party secretary for finance Patrick Chinamasa is leading the 11-member ZANU-PF delegation which also attended an ANC campaign rally at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, on Sunday.

"The ANC could be heading for a victory and the rally was a huge success, sending a clear message of dominance.

"The atmosphere around is calm and peaceful," Moyo told the State-controlled Herald newspaper.

ZANU-PF deputy secretary for youth affairs Lewis Matutu also commended the ANC youth league for their mobilization efforts.

"The ANC youth league has done a lot of mobilization for the party and they are in control of their structures from top to bottom," Matutu said.

Incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead the ANC in tomorrow’s elections against his main challenger Mmusi Maimane of the Democratic Alliance seeking to retain the party’s majority status and get a full term in office after assuming office in February 2018 following the recalling of former President Jacob Zuma.

Opinion polls show that the ruling ANC will win with approximately 60 percent of the vote.



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