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South Africa: Millions cast their votes, IEC's results centre ready for count
Wednesday May 7, 2014 11:48 PM, IANS

The South African Independent Electoral Commission's (IEC) national Results Operations Centre (ROC) is ready to count the millions of votes that are being cast in the country's fifth democratic election, a media report said.

Counting will begin after the country's 22,363 voting stations close at 9pm. The national Results Operations Centre in South African capital Pretoria, is equipped with 450 computers and wireless network to accommodate more than 200 concurrent users, SA News reported Wednesday.

There is a ROC in all the country's nine provinces, where the results will stream in at the conclusion of voting until the official results are declared.

These results will come in from the voting stations that have been set up by the IEC across the country.

As voting proceeded across the country from 7am Wednesday, journalists, political party agents, election observers, IEC officials and other organisations have taken their positions at the IEC's ROC in Pretoria to start following election results when voting stops at 9pm.

Accreditation for all people who will be at the centre has so far run smoothly and a gigantic screen where votes will be recorded digitally has been set up, the report stated.

A few meters from the screen, desks of all political parties that are registered by the IEC have been set up and party agents have already familiarised themselves with the system.

Earlier, South African President Jacob Zuma and leaders of various political parties cast their votes as polling continued Wednesday for the country's fifth general elections post-apartheid.

A large number of voting stations opened across the country without any hiccups, SA News cited IEC Chief Electoral Officer Mosotho Moepya as saying.

Speaking after the opening of voting stations at 7 a.m., Moepya said a few isolated incidents had been reported in some voting stations and these were being attended to.

He noted that a large number of stations opened without any incidents.

"Problems may be expected in the first few hours of the opening, not that we are expecting any for the rest of the day. We are busy attending to those reported incidents," said Moepya.

President Zuma cast his vote at Ntolwane Primary School in KwaNxamalala, near his birthplace in Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal, according to SA News.

He was greeted by a large local and international media contingent, as well as jovial locals. A number of security personnel were also present.

South Africa's number one citizen arrived just after 10 a.m. and joined the queue of voters. His first wife MaKhumalo stood behind him. They were accompanied by IEC chairperson Pansy Tlakula.

People tried to shake his hand, while others took pictures with their mobile phones. The president appeared to be in good spirits after casting his vote.

Speaking to the media shortly after, President Zuma said he felt "good and very enthusiastic", as the day marked the culmination of months of canvassing by all political parties.

"It feels good that I have just voted, and I hope that all voters will cast their votes freely, without any problems. This is our right that we fought for, among other rights we have."

Asked who he voted for, President Zuma laughed and said: "It is a secret."

Many political party heavyweights also voted in their respective home towns Wednesday morning.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille made her mark at St Paul's Anglican Church in Rondebosch in Cape Town just after 9 a.m., accompanied by her husband Johann Maree.

Zille is the premier of the Western Cape and the DA has been pushing to retain the province and increase its support in the national and provincial ballot in these elections.

Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele surprised voters when she arrived to make her mark at the Sea Point library voting station in Cape Town.

Julius Malema, the leader of the new kid on the block, Economic Freedom Fighters, arrived two hours after the voting station opened in his hometown, to vote at Mponegele Primary School in Seshego, while Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota voted in his hometown of Bloemfontein in the Free State.

In KwaZulu-Natal, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi cast his vote in Ulundi, as did National Freedom Party (NFP) President Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi. Msibi made her mark at the Thengisangaye Primary School -- a school she built.

Anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada cast his vote at 8.30 a.m. at the University of Witwatersrand in Parktown.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) has been at the helm all throughout.

The ANC, as the persistent fighter against apartheid, holds sway in eight out of nine provinces of the country and is poised to be returned to power in spite of the fact that its popularity is on the wane with the declining image of President Jacob Zuma.

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