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The voting process in East London’s Mdantsane township went smoothly, despite delays at some stations. Both young and elderly people came out in numbers. Before 10a.m., elderly people at Mdantsane’s Unit 7 Community Hall were already standing in long queues with some seated.

A 24-year-old first-time voter, Neliso Zide said the process was easy: “Voting for the first time was quick and easy as they explained how it is done. I am a new graduate; unemployment is the biggest challenge and government is expecting us to have two to three years of experience which is impossible. There are no opportunities for us new graduates to gather the experience through internships and learnerships. I hope government will look at that.”

Nzaliseko Mazomba (41), an employee at the King Phalo airport, said he was excited to vote and hopes job creation will be the first priority of the seventh administration. “Young people in this ward are unemployed, and some are graduates. One may wonder or ask if we are applying for jobs – yes we are but there’s no luck. I hope government will create jobs. People are hungry here and having jobs will be an answer to many of our problems as youth,” he said

Vuyo Yeka (45), a working father, said he hopes the next administration will speed up service delivery. “I came to vote today because I want to see change. Opportunities are limited to none in this ward. I hope government will invest in the youth and create sustainable job opportunities. There’s an abandoned school building here, and I hope they can use it as a recreational centre for young people. The roads are bad and there is also an issue with the clinic where people stand in long queues for hours – the next administration must build healthcare facilities for us,” he said.

A voter showing his inked thumb after voting in Mdantsane.

Unemployed Pumla Msizana (52), who is a member of the community anti-crime forum, said she hopes government can inject funds into the programme. “As the anti-crime forum we have done an impressive job in this ward and at the famous taxi rank, Highway. My wish is for government to give us something so we may continue doing this great job. Our parents and taxi commuters can now walk and shop safely because we have cleaned amaphara. One of the reasons I came to vote is because young people are not working here. There’s the R350 social grant which we are grateful for but it is not enough; I wish government can top it up but most importantly create jobs for the youth. There are talented people in this ward, who are able to use their hands. I wish they can be provided with sewing machines,” she said.

Msizana spoke about the NU2 swimming pool which has been the subject of much controversy over the years, with some alleging corruption and referring to it as ‘money pool’. Work had stalled on the pool since March because the Buffalo City municipality had allegedly not paid contractors. The swimming pool is just one of the metro’s multimillion-rand projects which have either stalled or gone over budget. Msizana said the opening and functioning of that swimming pool could help in curbing crime and drug abuse. She hopes the next government will invest in sport.

While voting went smooth at the Unit 7 community hall, there were delays at the voting station at Zanokhanyo Unit 6 with some voters threatening to return home and not cast their votes. There was controversy with some calling for the media to intervene as they had been standing in the queue for hours. The dissent was sparked after the IEC officials at the centre asked elderly people to line up by the entrance so that they could be assisted first. “We have been here for more than three hours; they must tell us if they do not want us to vote. Older people were supposed to cast their votes on Monday and Tuesday – where were they? Why are they here, what about us?” yelled one of the queueing voters at the presiding officer.

When we consulted the presiding officer, she referred questions to her superior. She did confirm that the voting station had just one voter management device (VMD) which was causing delays. “The VMD has information on whether or not a person is eligible to vote, and it gives us information on how many ballots to provide them with. We have one and I don’t know why. As for elderly people, some were here on Tuesday, however we couldn’t find them on the system – their names were not captured for special votes because the forms did not leave the registration station,” she said.

The Eastern Cape has over 3.4-million registered voters, 424,091 in Buffalo City, and the majority of them are women between the ages of 30-39.