Steady start to Gansbaai and Western Cape by-elections

GANSBAAI – The Western Cape by-elections got off to a steady start on Wednesday morning with electoral officers saying queues started forming  at the different voting stations around 6 am.

Four  by-elections are scheduled to take place in the Western Cape of which one is uncontested:

Ward 2 in the Overstrand [Greater Hermanus] Municipality is being contested by Juan Lewis of the ANC and Riana de Coning of the DA. The ward was previously represented by the DA  and became vacant as a result of the resignation of the councillor. The voter turnout in this ward for the 2011 municipal elections was 74.46%.

By this afternoon, the voting stations at Pretorius Hall and the Blompark Community Hall were beehives of activities with the candidates trying to attract as many last minute voeters as they could.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are contesting Ward 5 in the Overstrand for the first time. Samuel  Nywebeni of the EFF will be facing up to Sicelo Gxamesi of the ANC. The ward was previously represented by the ANC and became vacant as a result of the death of a  councillor. The voter turnout in the 2011 elections was 63.13%.

The voting stations are at Qhayiya Secondary School and the Houmoed Centre in Zwhelihle.

Ward 7 (Sandbaai) in the Overstrand is uncontested. David  Botha of the DA is the only candidate. The ward was previously represented by the DA and became vacant as a result of the resignation of the councillor. The voter turnout in this ward for the 2011 municipal elections was 71.96%.

Essie Fortuin, IEC Regional Organiser for the Overberg, said they had expected the early morning turnout. “The voting tempo will slow  down during the morning. However, we are expecting more and more to arrive around lunchtime and then again after 6 pm when people start arriving from work,” Fortuin said.

At some of the voting stations such as the Gerald Wright Hall in Grabouw about a hundred people were  waiting in the early morning, hoping to vote before they left for work. Voting stations are open from 07h00 to 21h00.

Ward 11 in the Theewaterskloof  Municipality is being  contested by Enrico Oosthuizen of the African National Congress, Lydia  Matomela of the Democratic Alliance and Simbongile Majelo of the United Democratic Movement. The ward was previously represented by the D A and became vacant as a result of the resignation of the councillor.

Speaking at the Gerald Wright Hall voting station, Stiffie (SP) Cronjé, Theewaterskloof Municipal Electoral Officer, confirmed that three mediators were on duty in case tempers flared.  He said allegations that more than 500 voters were registered in the ward but not living there anymore,  had been investigated by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). “We used sophisticated equipment determining the GPS co-ordinates of addresses of all the voters registered in Ward 11. We found that only 24 of them were actually not living in the ward, ” Cronjé said.

“We tried to contact them to inform them that they are no longer eligible to vote. However, most of them had either moved elsewhere or were not available,” Cronjé said.

Earlier,  Merencia Gillian, ANC MPL for the Overberg, said they remain critical about the IEC role in the ward.  She said they believed more than 600 voters that are registered to vote in Ward 11 are  not living there.  The DA won the ward by 103 votes in another by-election in April 2012.

The voter turnout in this ward for the 2011 municipal elections was 50.99%. Since then, a by-election took place on 25 April 2012 for which the turnout was 57.04%.

Canvassing and voting at the Blompark Community Hall this afternoon