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Low turnout in last round of ward committee elections Print E-mail
15 February 2017

Less than half of the 66 000 residents who were expected to vote in the third and final round of the City of Johannesburg’s ward committee elections in regions D and G at the weekend turned up to cast their ballots.

The low turnout – only about 32 000 people voted – has been attributed by Council Speaker Cllr Vasco da Gama to the lack of participation by councillors in the build-up to the Saturday February 11 polls. The 74 voting stations managed to record an average of 300 votes each.

Region D consists mostly of Soweto, while Region G includes areas such as Naturena, Eldorado Park, Lenasia, Zakarriya Park, Vlakfontein, Grasmere, Orange Farm, Poortje and Drieziek.

This was the lowest election turnout compared to the two previous rounds – the first in regions A and E on January 28, and the second in regions B, C and F the following Saturday.

“In the first and second rounds of the elections, councillors formed part of the awareness campaign, sending letters out to communities and encouraging them to come out and participate in the elections. We’re still going to conduct a proper analysis of what actually went wrong. But so far, that is our assessment,” said Cllr Da Gama.

Established in terms of the Local Authorities Act of 1998, ward committees play a crucial role in municipal affairs in that they assist democratically elected public representatives in all wards to carry out their mandates.

However, Saturday’s elections went off relatively well, although several isolated incidents of disruptions and disturbances were reported in a number of wards.

“In Slovoville, we had a voting station that was moved to another location, about 200m from where elections are normally held.

“It was moved to a cleaner space with toilet facilities for our staff members. The move angered people in the community, who demanded that the voting station be moved back,” said Cllr Da Gama.

He said this could not be done as there were also illegal connections in the old voting station and no toilet facilities for officials.

“JMPD officers moved in to calm down the situation. But the community went back, took the ballot box away and destroyed the remaining ballot papers,” he said.

In Lenasia, the elections were disrupted when community members protested against the non-appearance of certain candidates on the ballot papers. Other minor incidents were reported in Orange Farm.

Ntombi Maseko, a presiding officer at the Lenasia Cricket Stadium voting station, said: “In our voting station, we did not have any difficulties at all. We opened on time and community members started trickling in from early in the morning. We had a smooth voting process.

“We had three people who did not fall under this ward but we sent them to their designated voting stations,” said Maseko.

The electoral committee is currently looking at all objections presented to it. The election results will be announced only after all the objections had been dealt with.

“It all depends on when the last objection will be dealt with. But hopefully the results will be announced next week,” said Cllr Da Gama.

“We’re still going to do an analysis on the results we’ve received.”

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Last Updated on 15 February 2017