Protesters boycott the polls

Protesters boycott the polls

No-vote campaign comes to fruition
March 2, 2006

By Mercury Correspondents

Threats of a no-land, no-house, no-vote campaign, which had been echoing since early last year, came to fruition yesterday when polling stations in Durban’s protest-torn Ward 25 recorded low turnouts.

In Ward 25, which includes Sydenham, Springfield and Asherville, several informal settlement dwellers refused to vote.

Communities that are members of the Abahlali base Mjondolo housing movement stood by their threat that they would not vote if they had not received any solid promises in writing for housing.

When visiting voting stations nearest to these informal settlements, The Mercury found many other stations had recorded low turnouts, too.

At the Jadhu Place informal settlement, community members said the 4 000-strong informal settlement community had not voted.

At the Springfield Hindu School polling station, which was the nearest polling station to the Jadhu Place informal settlement, empty polling halls and an absence of queues bore testimony to the impact the no-vote campaign had had in the area.

The IEC Presiding Officer at the Springfield Hindu School Polling Station, Omar Mohamed, said it seemed that people were staying away. However, there had been a rush at the last minute, he said.

Mohamed said there were 2 380 registered voters at the station, but only 841 people had turned out to cast their ballots.

When The Mercury arrived at the Foreman Road settlement, people were dancing and chanting no-vote slogans.

At the Thekwini College in Springfield, which was the closest voting station to the Kennedy Road informal settlement, IEC Presiding Officer Mohamed Jetham said only 342 of the 1 300 registered voters had voted.

There was a similar situation at Collegevale Primary School in Sydenham, where there were also virtually no queues.

Several problems were experienced in the IFP stronghold of KwaMashu A-Section. Angry voters threatened to turn violent after being pushed from polling station to station because their names had not appeared on the voters roll.

Hundreds of frustrated potential voters toyi-toyied outside a temporary voting station in Musa Road, KwaMashu, after it became apparent that their names had not appeared on any voters rolls. Many supporters walked away from the polls out of frustration.

Local resident Alpheus Mathonzi said people had registered at the voting station, but that their names had not appeared on the voters roll.

At the KwaMashu temporary station, IEC Presiding Officer Nokuthula Mlambo said that some people who had been sent to other voting stations had found their names, but others had not.

She said some people had taken the incident politically and had threatened violence, but police had helped to neutralise the situation.