National 2.8.2016 04:28 pm

Special voting off to a shaky start in Vuwani

FILE PICTURE: People cast their vote. Picture: Neil McCartney

FILE PICTURE: People cast their vote. Picture: Neil McCartney

Despite the tense situation in the area, there was optimism that people would go out in large numbers and vote tomorrow.

Special voting in Vuwani, in the Vhembe district in Limpopo, got off to a shaky start on Tuesday, with some polling stations remaining closed.

At Tshivulana primary school, when Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials and police arrived, they found the school gates locked. They had to put up a polling booth next to the gate. The two IEC officials said they didn’t know why the gate was locked.

At 10.30am, there was no one in sight to cast a vote.

In Vhembe municipal building, which is also one of the voting stations, IEC officials also found the gates locked. Voting was conducted next to the locked gate.

The gate was later opened.

Acting Vhembe district municipality speaker, Dzuguda Kharidzha, was the first person to vote.

Explaining his experience, Kharidza said: “It is not comfortable to vote outside. It is just like schooling under a tree. It is not right.”

“It is just like everybody is seeing what you are doing.”

Kharidza said the situation was still tense in the area because many believe the elections would not take place.

EFF candidate councillor Edson Makhunga blamed the ANC for the situation in the area.

“It has been created by the ANC with the reason that they would vote alone,” Makhunga claimed.

ANC Youth League Vhembe regional executive committee member Tiyani Pataka disagreed.

“We never created this situation as the ANC,” Pataka said. “As the ANC we are in support of the new established municipality.”

Despite the tense situation in the area, Pataka was optimistic that people would go out in large numbers and vote for the ANC tomorrow.

DA candidate councillor Samson Muavha pleaded with the electorate to punish the ANC in the election.

“Let us go and vote against the ANC to punish them for what they did,” Muavha said.

IEC provincial electoral officer Nkaro Mateta was not available for comment.

Vuwani descended into chaos and a number of schools were torched after residents learnt that their area would be incorporated in a new municipality with Malamulele. They have vowed that elections would not take place in the area.

Police maintained a strong presence with a police helicopter circling the area. They also patrolled the streets.

The ANC, DA, EFF and Ximoko Xa Rixaka are some of the parties contesting today’s local government elections in the area.

-ngwakom@citizen.co.za

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