By SCOTT BOBB of the Voice of America
VOTING across South Africa went smoothly on Wednesday although some polling centers remained open late after running out of voting materials. South Africans cast ballots for national and provincial candidates in the country’s fourth election since the advent of democracy in 1994.
Despite some isolated technical problems, voting in South Africa’s fourth national election since the end of apartheid was peaceful.
The head of the ruling African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, expressed optimism over the election after casting his ballot in his home area in Kwa Zulu-Natal province.
“Insofar as how the voting and what is happening at the moment I don’t have that information but we just have a big hope that we will succeed,” said Jacob Zuma.
The presidential candidate of the newly created Congress of the People, Mvume Dandala, cast his ballot calling for a return to ethics in politics.
“We are saying to the South Africans, never be intimidated to the point where you do not use your vote according to your conscience,” said Mvume Dandala.
COPE was created four months ago by former ANC leaders who broke with the Zuma-led ANC leadership after it obliged then-President Thabo Mbeki to resign.
Mr. Mbeki declined to comment on the political infighting.
“The future of our country in part depends on people voting according to their consciences, people understanding the responsibility that each one of us bears as a voter that we have a possibility to determine what happens to our country,” said Thabo Mbeki.
The head of the main opposition party, Helen Zille of the Democratic Alliance, predicted major advances for her party in its stronghold in Western Cape Province.
“We are going to wash the ANC’s corruption out of the Western Cape for sure and we’re going to make a big dent in the ANC’s majority nationally,” said Helen Zille.
The ANC is expected to win the election making Zuma South Africa’s next president. But opposition parties are hoping to deprive the ANC of its two-thirds majority in parliament and take control of several provincial assemblies.
In the Johannesburg suburb of Yeoville, a culturally diverse former whites-only suburb, voter Papa told VOA on voting day that he is pleased that new political parties are emerging. Because he says, it is the diversity of choice that makes democracies work.
“I think you need voices of so many people in this country and that there should be balance, and you know when people express themselves and express their views, and those views should be respected,” said Papa. “Democracy requires that.”
He said much has improved in the past 15 years but much more work is needed, especially in the area of education.
Momshila came to live in Yeoville as soon as it was legal for black South Africans to purchase property anywhere they wished. But she says it is expensive and residents get little in return.
“Us, as people who are owning houses it is even worse, the rates and taxes, the water, the electricity, are really, really killing us,” said Momshila. “And I am not talking about crime, crime–it is a disaster.”
Provisional results from Wednesday’s vote are expected Thursday but official results will not be released before Saturday.