GOOD VIBRATIONS: Despite the rainy and cold conditions, Ward 7 voters lined up at the Kuyasa Combined School polling station and were in good spirits
QUICK AND EASY: Voters for Ward 9 experienced an easy exercise when voting at the Station Hill Community Hall where queues moved fast and without incident
COME RAIN OR SUNSHINE: The ANC supporters for Ward 7 stand strong in cold conditions outside the voting station at Kuyasa Combined School
EVERY VOTE COUNTS: Some elderly residents queue at the Station Hill Community Hall to cast their vote for the municipal elections yesterday
BLUE BRIGADE: Cheerful and wet in the rain are supporters and DA members at the Ward 7 voting station
LOUISE CARTER AND ROB KNOWLES
ELECTION Day finally arrived with the rain pouring down, and while many voters queued up at the various voting stations in and around Port Alfred mostly cheerful despite the cold weather, the story of one voter dampened the mood and the spirit of democracy.
First time voter Sibo Ntlokwana, a tourism student at Port Elizabeth College, travelled back home to Nemato the night before the vote, excited about the premise of casting her ballot for the first time.
When it was her turn to step up to the poll, she was informed that her name did not appear on the voters roll at Nomzano High School as indicated by her registration receipt. What followed was an endless back and forth from one voting station to another, where IEC officials informed her she had a different ward demarcation site than the one printed on her voter’s receipt.
“I don’t know what is going on. I thought this would be easy. I was looking forward to vote for the first time,” said Ntolkwana.
Her mother, Rosemary, who she stays with when visiting Port Alfred, was allowed to vote at Nomzamo High School, but Ntolkwana was first told by presiding officer Vuyelwa Mbundweni to go to Kuyasa Combined School. From there she was sent back to Nomzamo and then was finally told to go to the Civic Centre in Ward 10.
When TotT questioned this, as Ntolkwana would voting outside her ward, the presiding officer said the scanner and voters’ roll didn’t match up and that Ntolkwana would have to vote according to where her VD (ward) number indicated.
“There is a mess up somewhere. The scanner says Nomzamo, but she is not on the voters’ roll here and has a different VD. She must go to the correct VD,” said Mbundweni.
After arriving at Port Alfred Civic Centre, Ntolkwana was told she couldn’t vote there either.
“I’m confused and feel discouraged to vote again. I have been crying this morning because of this,” said Ntolkwana.
Despite her difficulties, Ntolkwana refused to give up and eventually met with an IEC trainer, Reverend Mlungisi Neku, who sent the distressed student to Kuyasa Combined School with instructions to IEC officers there to complete a special MEC 7 form and allow her to cast a normal vote. According to the IEC, if a voter’s name is not on the roll but they have a sticker in their ID that proves registration for that voting district, they must be allowed to vote.
According to bystanders, Ntolkwana was not alone in this predicament and as many as a 100 other voters experienced similar problems.
At the Ward 7 voting station at Kuyasa Combined School, IEC officer Luyolo Yali said it was an exciting and positive atmosphere.
“People have been coming in since 7am and casting their vote. Up here, people are being positive and the turnout is good,” she said.
“This election feels different, the competition is high for the ruling party; people are coming out even in this rain because they know it’s an important one. It’s better to have strong competition – it influences ruling parties to work harder.”
At Titi Jonas Hall in Ward 6, queues were short with no incidents. Presiding officer Ntomboxolo Buso reported that by 10am more than 200 voters had made their mark.
At Memorial Hall in Port Alfred two of the three scanners failed to work at around 9am, but this only created a problem for a short time as the IEC officials said that as long as the voters had registered and were on the voter’s roll they would be allowed to vote.
Police on duty at the polling stations reported they had seen no criminal activity, and party officials seemed bright and cheery, despite the cold.