In rainy Woodstock, voters on Wednesday seemed divided into two camps — those who voted for the Democratic Alliance (DA) with enthusiasm and those who did so grudgingly — but the party trying to cling to the Western Cape was worried that a low turnout here did not bode well.
“It is a stronghold, but turnout has only been 50 percent. There are 4,000 voters registered and only about 1,900 have voted so far,” said DA party agent Jessica Shelver at the Woodstock Community Hall at around 6pm.
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“It is kind of a bellwether station for us. We’re hoping that because it is not totally a blue-collar area some voters may not have had the day off and will still come and vote after work.”
Shelver said the slow trickle of voters might have something to do with the rain, which pounded down on this part of Ward 117, run by DA councillor Dave Bryant, since before sunrise. Those who come to cast their ballots were about a 50-50 split between the more bourgeois residents of Upper Woodstock, and the working class counterparts below the main road.
Retired postman Alan Solomons said he had been a DA voter all his life, but did not always understand the party’s decisions and thought it could “do a little better” in terms of local government providing service, especially health and safety.
A special moment assisting a voter with my friend and Federal Leader @MmusiMaimane. We get to meet the most dedicated DA supporters. I am truly grateful for each and every supporter. @Our_DA #Elections2019 pic.twitter.com/luinbe7QyZ
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“I’m thinking of the hospitals and safety. Why did they have to close the local hospital? It has huge implications on the elderly. They now have to travel to town and pay for transport and get home late in the afternoon. And if you call the police, the time they take to come …. we need a better police station here.”
But he added that he thought the province was still in better shape than the other eight run by the African National Congress (ANC).
Adrian Davids said the DA was “a very strong unit” but he hoped the party would work to improve security and transport if it secured another mandate in the province.
“It is just chaos with transport. And the train stops in Woodstock but the people who get off in the morning don’t go back home at night. It has become a place for the whole country to sleep, it seems.”
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— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) May 8, 2019
His wife Shereen added: “I hope it’s not just a case of election promises and after the elections, they forget again.”
Housewife Diane Jordaan said she was voting strategically to prevent the ANC taking power in the province.
“To be honest, I’m just voting for the DA to keep the ANC out. If there were smaller parties who were strong, I would vote for them, but it will take time, so this is a vote just for now,” Jordaan said.
“It has just become so much about rich people, in everything they do, from the water onwards,” she added, referring to the levies and tariffs the party introduced when the Cape endured the worst drought in living memory. People come here and sleep on your doorstep and you call the neighbourhood watch and the police and nobody does anything.”
She broke off to shake her head at a man wearing a cat-eared cape walking into the polling station, clutching a clawed metal stick, and sighed: “Look, he’s not even concealing his dangerous weapon.”
The man in question emerged after casting his ballot and gave his name as Sandor.
“My name is Sandor and I’m 47 and I’m gay, It’s like Madonna, there’s no surname.”
He jokes that he voted for a picture of himself.
“He probably voted for the DA,” his self-proclaimed “trophy boyfriend” Chazz interrupts.
He said he planned to do so himself, at a different polling station.
“I’m hoping they will keep things sort of the same, maybe a little better.”
– African News Agency (ANA)