Unsettling tensions in KwaMashu and uMlazi on voting day

Unsettling tensions in KwaMashu and uMlazi on voting day

KwaZulu-Natal – As voters queued to vote yesterday, Police Minister Bheki Cele made appearances at voting stations in KwaMashu and uMlazi 17 Hostels in eThekwini amid high political tensions.

Residents said the presence of the minister in these areas brought a sense of relief and assurances for their safety.

“I came early because I’d like to vote and return home early as I worry about my safety around KwaMashu hostel. Anything can happen here; shootings take place at any time, especially in the afternoons. People are even scared to wear their chosen political party branded regalia when around the hostel because of the history of violence between IFP and ANC,” said one voter at KwaMashu Hostel.

Cele told voters that he would be following up on all the hostels’ political violence cases and ensure that they are solved.

By the end of voting day, the KwaZulu-Natal IEC officials reported smooth voting in kwaMashu and uMlazi despite additional voting disruptions forced by a power outage in uMlazi. The IEC was able to make a contingency plan for power supply but this too was insufficient according to Ntombifuthi Masinga from the IEC.

“As soon as electricity was restored we were able to proceed in uMlazi, and that’s where you saw voting happening up until 1a.m. and counting started and the results are in; which we think is a sterling job by our staff which was working in those voting stations”, said Masinga. (Edited by Philile Masango)

Ntombifuthi Masinga from the IEC in KwaZulu-Natal details how voting went in some parts of the province.
Voters encouraged to vote early

Voters encouraged to vote early

KwaZulu-Natal – The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has encouraged voters to keep the precedent they have kept in past elections of voting early.

IEC Electoral Manager in KZN, Mawethu Mosery says voters should bear in mind that it is easier to manage all possible circumstances in daylight, particularly in the one voting station that will be open for a limited time in Nkovukeni under Kwamhlab’uyalinga municipality.

“The place is almost offshore. There’s about 239 voters expected in that venue. And we have to cross through a lake to get to that station. We are assisted by SAPS Special Unit to cross to this particular venue. The unfortunate part is that there is nature in this area such as hippos so we have to cross through and return from that venue during the day. This is why we will operate there from 9a.m. to until 14h00. We will still do the counting at the voting station, and return to mainland by 17h00. This is the only voting station in the province with such an arrangement,” says Mosery.

There are 4,888 voting stations set up across the KZN province. The IEC staff number in this province stands at over 60, 000.

Mosery says voters must ensure they are well organized and ready to vote when they get to the voting stations. He has reminded voters to bring their ID documents which will be accessible from the department of Home Affairs throughout voting day for those who may still not have their IDs.

“Bring either be your smart card or green bar-coded ID or your temporary ID certificate. Home Affairs will be operating similar hours to ours so that those who have lost their IDs or have not collected them can collect them. Voters must also ensure that their ballot paper is stamped at the back because a ballot paper without the authentic stamp is an invalid ballot. They can also wear anything; they can wear party t-shirts that identify them politically, there are no restrictions.” (Edited by Philile Masango)

IEC KZN Electoral Manager Makwethu Mosery has encouraged voters to keep the trend they have developed in the past; voting early to ensure a sanitized voting process.
Thought Leadership: Local Voices contributor’s election analysis on Vibe FM

Thought Leadership: Local Voices contributor’s election analysis on Vibe FM

KwaZulu-Natal – Local Voices partner station Vibe FM hosted leading Local Voices contributor Donsy Kunene to their #PoliticalMondays discussion on the breakfast show.

Kunene was asked to help unpack the 2019 election manifestos of the top three political parties; the African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). She was in conversation with Vibe FM’s breakfast show host Ayanda Ntuli.

Could you explain to our listeners what an election manifesto is; what does it mean to each one of us?

I think this is a very important question because most people don’t know what a manifesto is. As a community radio station like Vibe FM we are here to teach people what is a manifesto. A manifesto is a declaration or an announcement that is made by political parties to the citizens of the country before the elections. This announcement has terms and objectives of the party. This means it talks about what that particular political party aims to do should it be elected to office. The manifesto is used to campaign.

Do you think the manifestos presented by South Africa’s political parties contain what the citizens of the country want? 

The upcoming elections are mostly targeting young people. One thing that affects the young is high unemployment, education and drug abuse. But when we look at the different manifestos they don’t say much about the issues that affect the youth. The top three political parties; the ANC, DA and EFF, are not explaining in detail how they will implement everything that they have mentioned on their manifestos. It is always important to explain how you are planning to implement your programs. Most political parties are more focused on the land issue but they are forgetting that the target for these elections is the youth and young people are more interested in education, employment and to stop drug abuse. And I would say these manifestos are very weak in addressing these challenges.

Is it a coincidence that we see protests in the run up to elections?

I think as South Africans we know that if we protest we will get what we want. We had protests across the country over the past 5 years but as we approached the elections, these protests became more serious and visible. As people we always think that our political parties will change if we protest before the elections. What I saw was the political parties doing something different from what people were doing.

People were protesting for jobs, water and electricity which are basic needs, but we have seen the government opening factories and libraries. Most of this happened weeks before the elections, in a plan to attract more votes.

From where I am standing, I don’t think that these are the main issues that people are worried about as much as it will boost the economy. People demand basic needs. Public infrastructure was destroyed during the protests but nothing was done.

I think as country, we have failed to prioritize young people. We still think that old people are the ones who are more knowledgeable, not realizing that old people don’t speak on the same level as young people. Young people are educated so this means they will start to experience things differently. So there is no link between the things that are being said by old people in political parties and what young people want.

The only political party that has a manifesto that focuses on the young is that of the Economic Freedom Fighters. The EFF have tried to relate their ideologies to young people. This party is more focused on student politics so that is why it has more support from young people. So the observation that young people didn’t come out in numbers to register to vote was wrong.

No political party took the matter seriously including the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance. Most parties did not talk about the things that would attract young people and this will affect our country negatively in the future.

Do you think it was a great idea for political parties to use the call for free education to campaign?

Our political parties have ambitious ideas on their manifestos but the challenge will be funding and implementing these ideologies. On paper, they say all these good things about education, but none of the political parties mentioned on how they plan to carry out these ideas.

The ANC and the EFF believe in free education, and also sustaining already existing programs and policies in this regard. However, their promises around education are meaningless.

For an example the EFF said students will travel for free on public transport, free learning materials, and free driving school lessons. As much as it is said, it is not realistic and their measurements are not achievable. The DA said their approach will be more on funding higher education but they are not saying how these bursaries will be funded.  – Vibe FM (Edited by Philile Masango)

#PoliticalMondays: On Monday May 6, less than two days before the national voting day, Vibe FM unpacked the election manifestos of the top three political parties with Local Voices contributor Donsy Kunene.

Volatile KwaZulu-Natal security ready for Election Day

On the eve of the national election, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has announced it is ready to handle any arising security threats and issues, and also protect those who will be voting.

In a joint special media briefing held in Durban this morning, provincial MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomsa Dube-Ncube, announced that her department is working jointly with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to ensure that rapid response teams handle anticipated sporadic protests.

“In addition to the SAPS team, we’ve also know put a team of HODs and DGs from various sector departments who’ve now been given specific tasks of ensuring that we respond immediately. The Joint Operating Center that is stationed at eThekwini Disaster Management Center is still operational. So the SAPS and all other sector department that form part of the Disaster Management Team are still active,” said MEC Nomsa-Dube Ncube.

Speaking at the same media briefing, SAPS Spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker urged those who choose to exercise their constitutionally protected right to protest, to not disturb those who have elected to exercise their equally constitutionally protected right to vote freely.

“People must go out in numbers tomorrow and vote. They must not be intimidated by any threats that they may hear in social media or communities. We will secure the routes that are used by the voters to voting stations. As the Joint Operation Intelligent Structure we will ensure that people vote peacefully,” said Colonel Jay Naicker.

Colonel Jay Naicker, spokesperson of KZN SAPS says they, in collaboration with other provincial structures, are more than ready to ensure peaceful voting on May 8.

Tightening of security within the eThekwini Metro follows a prolonged strike by municipal workers affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers Union. The strike started on April 26, and despite a call by authorities for workers to report to work, workers have not returned to work yet.

The past few weeks have been a pain for provincial authorities in KZN with the intense and violent protest action and political killings.

Police Minister Bheki Cele subsequently announced that KZN along with the North West province will receive additional policing during election week. (Edited by Philile Masango)

Journalist attacked in eThekwini

Journalist attacked in eThekwini

KwaZulu-Natal – eThekwini based freelance journalist and Local Voices contributor Donsy Kunene is recovering at home after being attacked in striking eThekwini Metro employees chaos earlier today.

Kunene has been following the workers’ pay hike strike closely since it started last Thursday. She says trouble started when employees aggressively followed City of eThekwini and workers union officials into the City Hall where they were returning to continue deliberating the strike. The officials had just addressed the workers. However, workers were unsatisfied with their updates about the pay negotiations, and decided to follow them to the negotiating table.

Kunene says she is unsure of who exactly might have attacked her in the chaotic scenes that were in the City Hall. She adds that she temporarily lost her memory after the attack and has had to deal with a stubborn headache since then.

The attack on Kunene comes just hours after Police minister Bheki Cele announced that his ministry has identified the KwaZulu-Natal and North West provinces as the highest risk areas for this year’s elections.

Minister Cele also announced that he will be deploying over 51,000 police officers to voting stations on election day, with special attention directed to the various identified violence hotspots in KwaZulu-Natal and North West provinces. (Edited by Philile Masango)

eThekwini: water & sanitation issues stir threats of election boycott

KwaZulu-Natal – As the election date nears, an increasing number of eThekwini residents are threatening to boycott next week’s elections. They are disgruntled with the delay in fixing water and sanitation issues. It’s taken the City of eThekwini’s Department of Water and Sanitation more than 10 days to attend to the damage caused by the recent storms in eThekwini.

Chesterville Ext 2 resident Smangele Ngobese, says the poor service from the municipality with regards burst water pipes is the last straw. Ngobese says her family has gone without water for several days as a result and this is enough reason for her not to vote next week.

“I started voting in 1994 and I have been telling myself that I will keep voting come May 8th. Now I have changed my mind. My family and I will never vote again. We have been reporting the water issue and demonstrating our discontent to the municipality for many years but no one is taking us seriously. We stay in a low lying area and above us is where the water pipes are situated. When there are heavy rains we are the first ones affected; water pipes burst resulting in water flooding into our home,” says Ngobese.

The visibly annoyed 38 year old further said the most infuriating part is that all the elected ward Councillors have ignored the issue of water pipes and blocked sewerage systems. The sewerage spills all over the place to the extent that residents can’t even open their doors and windows.

“I am fed up with all the Councillors; we expected them to be the champions of service delivery but all of them have done nothing to better our living conditions. We have reported the need to repair water pipes and sewerage system since 2009. I wish I had enough money to move my family to a better place. When my father was still alive, he was the voice of the community; fighting for good service delivery. But he passed on without winning the battle; leaving us in the same unacceptable conditions. We are then asking ourselves, why we should we vote if there are no improvements in our area”, said Ngobese.

Fresh delays in attending to water and sanitation issues in eThekwini are attributed to the city’s water and sanitation department employees strike demanding better pay. On Tuesday morning, the employees joined their Durban Solid Waste colleagues in a massive protest in eThekwini. Striking employees emptied litter onto the streets on their way to City Hall to demand a salary increase.

When contacted, Mandla Maloakoane, the Strategic Executive at the Department of Water and Sanitation in eThekwini, told Inanda FM that a special meeting was in session to address issues pertaining to the strike. (Edited by Philile Masango)

Voter loyalty hindering advancement of democracy

Voter loyalty hindering advancement of democracy

KwaZulu-Natal – On Freedom Day Saala Media hosted an election debate with two of Durban’s community radio stations – Ugu Youth Radio, and Al ansaar FM where there was a debate among the top three political parties in the country; ANC, DA and EFF.
Election debate moderator Inayet Wadee noted that voters tend to prioritize personal loyalty over any criticism when it comes to the political party of their choice.
“Assessing from the election debate audience responses, voters still tend to make decisions based on whom they are individually loyal to. Loyalty to them matters more than real issues that they need to be concerned about,” says Wadee.
An informal investigation done by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Durban seems to agree with Wadee’s observation. The IEC’s investigation reveals that a significant chunk of voters do not even know what their political parties’ manifestos entail.
IEC Outreach and Training Manager, Malusi Msomi says it is disheartening to realise that voters do not take time to read and understand the manifestos of political parties; even their chosen ones.
Zoleka Mkhabela a post-graduate student and staunch EFF supporter is a first time voter from KwaMashu. She says her voting decision is based on loyalty to the party she fell in love with during the 2014 local government elections. Zoleka says she has not bothered to read nor listen to the 2019 EFF election manifesto.

“After reading the EFF election manifesto in 2014, I decided that this is the party I identify with. The resolve of EFF leaders in 2014 is what attracted me and that’s enough for me.”
(Edited by Philile Masango)

uMlazi storm survivors angered by Freedom Day celebrations

uMlazi storm survivors angered by Freedom Day celebrations

Some angry residents of uMlazi feel it was insensitive of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) provincial government to celebrate Freedom Day so soon after the recent devastating floods that left scores of people dead in the province. Residents say the event was nothing more than an ANC electioneering drive.
The Office of the KZN Premier hosted the Freedom Day celebrations in collaboration with the provincial Department of Arts & Culture. The event held at the King Zwelithini Stadium in uMlazi was one of many celebrations held across the province, with the majority of attendees appearing donned in ANC regalia.
ANCKZN Chair Sihle Zikalala’s address was filled with praise for the ANC; saying the ruling party delivered South Africans from Apartheid into democracy. Zikalala lauded the ANC for restoring dignity to black people; service delivery through job creation opportunities and reduced poverty by building houses for the poor.
“This is a story of how the ANC has fashioned a new society from the debris of the apartheid edifice – a society founded on the values of social justice, equality and human dignity. It is a story of how the ANC has been able to quell the internecine violence in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and ensured that we now talk of peace as a permanent feature of the province’s social fabric,” said Zikalala.
However, onlookers who listened to the speeches from a distance, said they were not surprised that the celebration turned out to be another ANC election campaign.
They criticized the event, saying it was too soon to be jovial in a township that is still mourning the death of 67 people who died in recent flooding. (Edited By Philile Masango)