At least 25 million South Africans have Wednesday gone to the polls to elect their new leader.
CCEDU Coordinator Crispin Kaheru, who is in South Africa, says voting is underway for national and provincial elections.
All the 48 registered political parties are fielding candidates for the 400 national assembly seats.
The front-runners in this election are African National Congress (ANC) led by President Cyril Ramaphosa; Democratic Alliance (DA) headed by Mmusi Maimane; and Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Voting commenced at 7:00am across all the 9 provinces including: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, North West, Free State, Kwazulu Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Polling will stop at 9:00pm.
“25.3 million registered voters are expected to cast votes at their respective polling stations today,” Kaheru told ChimpReports on Wednesday afternoon.
“There are reports of high voter participation (10 hours into voting) countrywide,” he added.
Kaheru said so far, polling has largely been peaceful with a few isolated incidents involving ‘social service delivery protests’ in Free State, Kwazulu-Natal as well as malfunctioning of the biometric voting machines (zip-zip machines) in parts of Mpumalanga province.
The election is seen as a verdict from disillusioned voters who blame ANC’s endemic corruption for poor living conditions and joblessness.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and his spouse, Dr Tshepo Motsepe, cast their votes at Hitekani Primary School, Chiawelo, Soweto.
President Ramaphosa, who spent his early life in Soweto, encouraged eligible voters to go out in their numbers to participate in the sixth democratic national and provincial elections.
“As part of our celebration of 25 years of freedom and democracy, this election is an important milestone in our development as a nation and it is our duty as citizens to exercise our hard-won right to determine the direction in which the country moves. Our vote ensures that our democracy remains vibrant and inclusive,” said Ramaphosa.
Kaheru, who is in South Africa as an election observer, said as a way of promoting an inclusive election, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) organized special voting for the elderly, the pregnant, Persons Living with Disabilities and those persons who would be working or unavailable on polling day.
“Special voting took place on Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th May in voters’ homes or at central accessible community locations. IEC has also included braille ballot papers to enable the blind to participate in the election,” he observed.