The Chief Electoral Officer of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), Sy Mamabolo, says everything is ready and in place for the by-elections taking place in 95 wards across 55 municipalities in all nine provinces on Wednesday.

Voting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 11 November, between 7am and 9pm in 455 voting stations, of which 233 (51%) are in schools, 65 (14%) are in places of worship and 157 (35%) are in other structures.

The results of the by-elections are expected to be announced by midday on Thursday.

According to Mamabolo, the by-elections are the first to be held since election activities were suspended in March this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are a “catch-up” of all by-elections postponed between March and September.

Mamabolo says a total of 609 133 voters are on the certified voters’ rolls for the various by-elections.

A total of 23 008 (3.7%) applied and have been approved to cast special votes — 12 218 via home visits and 10 790 at their voting station. The Commission says special votes will be cast tomorrow.

“The Electoral Commission is confident that the by-elections will be free, fair and safe – as long as all stakeholders conform to the strict safety measures and protocols put in place at voting stations.

“Protective equipment, including masks, gloves and face shields, have been procured for election staff at voting stations and for conducting home visits for those voters who are physically disabled, infirm or pregnant,” said Mamabolo.

The Electoral Commission said it is confident that all logistical, human resource and safety preparations are in place to ensure free, fair and safe elections on Wednesday.

Of the 95 wards (by-elections):

• 20 are in the Northern Cape across eight municipalities;

• 19 are in the Eastern Cape across 13 municipalities;

• 14 are in Gauteng across six municipalities;

• 12 are in KwaZulu-Natal across nine municipalities;

• 11 are in the Western Cape across 5 municipalities;

• Six are in the North West across four municipalities;

• Five are in Mpumalanga across three municipalities;

• Four are in Limpopo across four municipalities and

• Four are in the Free State across three municipalities.

The by-elections include two dissolved councils in the Northern Cape, where PR candidates must also be elected (nine PR seats in Phokwane and three PR seats in Renosterberg).

Voters are reminded to only vote at the voting station where they are registered.

• To bring their green barcoded ID document or smartcard ID.

• To wear a mask and observer social distancing at all times.

• To bring their own pen if they wish to avoid using the ones provided.

COVID-19 protocols

• Strict social distancing practices both outside and inside voting stations.

• The mandatory wearing of masks over nose and mouth of all persons within the boundaries of the voting station.

• The application of hand sanitisers to all persons entering and exiting the voting station.

• The replacement of the traditional indelible ink marker pens with an indelible ink liquid, which will be applied from a bottle to the thumb of voters using cotton buds, which will be disposed after each use.

The by-elections are being contested by 40 political parties with a total of 444 candidates certified as contestants. This includes 19 independent candidates.

Of the candidates, 305 (69%) are male and 139 (31%) are female.

Mamabolo said all the necessary election equipment has been procured and distributed to warehouses and will be transported to voting stations tomorrow.

This includes:

• Copies of the voters’ rolls and voting district maps.

• Ballot papers (97 variations including 2 PR; approximately 700 000 total papers).

• Voting booths.

• Pens.

• Security materials (including ballot paper stamps, 2 300 indelible ink bottles and 900 000 cotton application buds).

According to the Commission, the South African Weather Service is predicting cooler conditions over much of the country this week.

Widespread rain is expected on Wednesday in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and North West.

“Fortunately, no severe thunderstorms or other significant weather warnings are currently in place for the country this week.

“We also need voters to turn out in numbers to participate to give credibility and legitimacy to the outcome – especially in ward by-elections, where victory can be determined by a handful of votes,” Mamabolo said.

The Electoral Commission appeals to all role players – election staff, voters, party agents, candidates and observers – to abide by all the electoral laws and regulations including the Code of Conduct.

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