24 April 2009
South Africans are serious about democracy, international observer Oranto Atombo said after witnessing the massive, peaceful voter turnout in the country’s 2009 general election.
Speaking to BuaNews on Thursday from the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC’s) results centre in Pretoria, were the votes from Wednesday’s election were being counted, Atombo said South Africa had once more proved that it could pull off a successful election.
In Jacob Zuma’s hometown in Kwanxamalala, KwaZulu-Natal, 67-year-old Songelwayo Nene makes his mark in South Africa’s fourth democratic elections. Click arrow to play video
“An election of this magnitude can hardly be 100 percent free of anything,” Atombo said of the relatively few logistical glitches encountered. “Even in advanced democracies.”
According to the IEC, 77.31 percent of South Africa’s 23.18-million registered voters cast their ballots in Wednesday’s poll.
The huge turnout caused long queues and a shortage of voting material at some voting stations, which saw presiding officers scrambling to supply voting material where it was needed. All stations closed at 9pm, although voters who were already in the queue at that time were allowed to vote.
Atombo said voters’ determination to stand in long queues to make their mark demonstrated “how serious South Africans are about their hard-earned democracy”.
Atombo is one of 333 international observers currently in South Africa to ensure that the country’s elections are free and fair.
Meanwhile, an observer mission from Business Unity South Africa (Busa) has congratulated the country on conducting a free and fair election, saying this was a positive factor for investor and business confidence.
“Notwithstanding the shortages of ballot papers and ballot boxes, which caused delays in some voting stations, the cooperation between party agents and IEC officials allowed for speedy resolutions of those challenges,” Busa said in a statement on Thursday.