Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS
Picture: BLOOMBERG/WALDO SWIEGERS

As the country prepares to vote on Wednesday‚ the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) says disruptions can be expected at 1% of polling stations.

“We do not anticipate more than a percentage or two of voting stations disrupted — 2% is really unexpected. We can safely say about 1%‚ which is higher than previous years‚” said Lizette Lancaster of the ISS’s crime and justice hub.

Lancaster was speaking at an ISS seminar on Thursday‚ where she presented research on violence leading up to and during elections.

“By 2012, we started realising that crime or public violence associated with protests were on the increase‚ more and more arrests were being made, and that there were more protests turning violent than in the previous decade‚” she said.

The country has‚ in the past few months‚ been confronted with a series of service delivery protests‚ including the #AlexShutdown.

“There is an increasing feeling of despair when it comes to service delivery‚ and the government is just not responsive. Hence some hot-spots are persistent‚ such as Bekkersdal‚ Alexandra‚ Tshwane‚ Vuwani ... the list goes on and on.

“The trend suggests that the practice of the last voter registration weekend is very likely to predict what’s going to happen on election day for many of those areas‚” she said.

Lancaster said that people in the rural Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga protested against those they put in power‚ but did not vote for an alternative party. “Many support the political party they are protesting against [vut] voting for an alternative is not option.” 

Meanwhile‚ statistics by the SA Social Attitudes Survey (Sasas) show that more than 60% of people aged 18 to 36 are dissatisfied with democracy‚ but would vote anyway. Research indicates that many young people have not registered to vote.

Speaking about the state of readiness to the elections among the youth‚ Lwazi Khoza of the Youth Lab said young people found political parties unattractive. He said of the 400 members of parliament‚ only 24 were younger than 35.

“That is a 6% youth representation‚ which is actually illegal. According to the law‚ youth representation should be sitting at 40%‚ parliamentary legislation says that there should be a 40% young people representation‚” said Khoza.

“Young people are tired of legitimising the process of an ordinary functional democracy when it is constantly excluding them.”