Chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

The rolling blackouts that have affected the country are a matter of concern for the economy and the upcoming elections, Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said on Wednesday.

This follows a briefing by Eskom and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan during which they were unable to tell the country when load-shedding would end or how long it will last.

The May 8 elections, touted as the most highly contested since 1994, are 49 days away and there are concerns about the effect power cuts will have on counting, as well as the credibility of the system.

The counting of ballot paper happens throughout the night after voting stations have closed. 

Wednesday was the fifth day of stage 4 load-shedding, leaving many without electricity for more than four hours at a stretch. 

Mamabolo said the IEC is interacting with Eskom and has noted the pronouncements made by the utility earlier this week, saying, “This is not an easy issue.” 

He said the commission was putting together “second tier contingency plans” to try to ensure the counting of the ballots is not affected. He added that paying for the electricity used at counting stations is already expensive and contingency plans will add to that, but that the IEC will spare no expense.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za