South Africa’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) is promising nothing short of a credible General Election.
The commission says will ensure the exercise measures up to international standards as South Africans go to the polls on Wednesday.
And the Friday court ruling giving IEC boss Pansy Tlakula a temporary reprieve from charges of irregular tendering could not have come at a more appropriate time.
She can, for now, concentrate on executing her delicate mandate without much distraction.
Ms Tlakula is accused of acting irregularly in acquiring R320 million lease of the IEC headquarters in Pretoria.
The lease deal was done when she was the chief electoral officer.
A forensic audit by PriceWaterhouseCoopers recommends that criminal charges be preferred against the architects of the irregular lease deal.
IEC last Wednesday opened the Election Result Operation Centre where votes will be tallied and complaints by any of the interested parties can be given immediate centre.
The centre is based in Pretoria’s Centurion region, at the Tshwane Event Centre and will receive the results from all the 22,263 polling stations to be verified and then displayed on three big screens.
So far, over 30 media organisations have been accredited to monitor the tallying at the centre, according to the IEC chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya.
Besides the media, the centre will also host local and international election observers and representatives of all the 28 political parties participating in the elections.
The first results, to be displayed for all to see, are expected at midnight Wednesday going into Thursday.
“Everyone sees the vote tally together. Not even the chairperson of the IEC sees the result before it is displayed,” IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said.
Ms Bapela explained that the votes will be counted at the 22,263 polling stations by IEC officials and other representatives.
Once counted, the number of votes is compared to the number of those who voted at a particular station.
“If they correspond, the tally is signed by the officials and party representatives. If it does not, a query is sent through to the centre,” Ms Bapela explained.
TROOPS TO BE DEPLOYED
Security arrangements are also in place, according to the police spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale.
Lt-General Makgale said police would be deployed to every voting station and anyone attempting to destabilise the election would most certainly be arrested and prosecuted.
The military too will play a significant role in securing the election. According to a report in the Star newspaper on Friday, President Jacob Zuma had authorised the deployment of 2,000 troops to assist the police during the elections and the presidential inauguration.
Slightly over 25.3 million people have registered to vote in South Africa’s fifth democratic election.
The May 7 poll is a watershed for South Africa, being the first since the death of Nelson Mandela, credited with shepherding South Africa through a delicate transition from apartheid to a modern democracy.
Advanced voting by the South African diaspora has already been concluded. The votes are already being couriered to the Pretoria to await the tallying.
IEC has described the diaspora vote as a success with a commendable turnout.
Election officials will on Monday and Tuesday visit 295,731 voters in their homes, retirement centres, healthcare facilities and other places throughout the country to allow the physically challenged to cast their ballots.
Also to cast their ballots on Monday or Tuesday are some 90,698 voters who successfully applied for the consideration. They include essential service providers, such as security personnel.
For the rest of the voters, Wednesday is the day. Polling stations open at 7am local time and close at 9pm.