By Nokuthula Zwane and Zanta Nkumane
WITS voting stations did not see long lines at the polls as many students skipped out on casting their ballots for the local government elections. Officials estimated that voter turnout was less than 30%.
Throughout election day, the lines at voting stations at Education Campus and the Old Mutual Sports Hall on East campus barely stretched past 20 people at a time. When Wits Vuvuzela went to check at 5pm if the voter turnout had improved, only two people were in the line at Old Mutual. “We were expecting 2 520 people but only 700 have showed up,” an Independent Election Official (IEC) official revealed. “Students don’t want to vote,” he said with a chuckle.
The scenes at the Wits polling stations were as quiet as a cemetery, with security guards and police sitting in a group chatting and snacking. “We’ve been bored all day,” said a police officer.
Across the Library Lawns, the ANC had set up a tent and was still campaigning. A group of about 20 student activists sangs songs in the chilly wind.After a study conducted by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) revealed last week that most students would rather protest than vote, this poor turnout may be a wakeup call for parties to re-think how they engage youth voters going forward.
Mokgadi Maila, a Mining Engineering student, said she was a second time voter but after voting, she was still doubtful if it would make a difference to political parties.
“I don’t think they’ll change anything. I hope they can deliver,” she said.While others went to the polls, some students didn’t bother to register to vote.
“You vote then what happens?” asked 23-year-old Smanele Mbhele, Honours Education. “I had better things to do today than vote.”
Although the turnout at Wits was not as expected, many South Africans made their X mark on the ballot for the Municipal Elections.
Over 133.000 voting booths were opened across the country. In preparation for the elections, the IEC had made arrangements to ensure that the elections remained free and fair.
Among the citizens who voted around the country was President Jacob Zuma who cast his vote in his hometown of Nkandla, in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane cast his vote with his wife, Natalie, at the Allen Glen High School in Roodeport. Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema cast his vote in Seshego, Limpopo.
This election has been highly anticipated with many opposition parties such as the DA and EFF expecting to increase their share of the vote at the expense of the ruling ANC.
Wits Vuvuzela, Killarney voting station teeming with politicians and celebrities, 3 Aug 2016
Wits Vuvuvuzela, The Voters experience #AtThePolls, 3 Aug 2016