Voting began in Johannesburg's black township of Soweto on Saturday (18 February) in elections for the first Community Council.
Voting began in Johannesburg's black township of Soweto on Saturday (18 February) in elections for the first Community Council. The Government called for the elections to set up the Council, but recently more than half of the thirty candidates were disqualified. The move followed a call by black leaders for a boycott of the elections, which they said would not lead to any greater autonomy in Soweto. On Monday, more elections got underway in Johannesburg, this time for candidates for the kwa Zula Government. Zulus throughout the Homeland and South Africa were eligible to vote.
SYNOPSIS: The Soweto elections took place in heavy rain, but even with this in mind, officials described the early turnout as lower than expected. Only two of Soweto's thirty wards were being contested, and both polling stations reported fewer than a dozen votes registered during the first hour. Opposition to the Community Council elections follows the Government's disqualification of many of the candidates. And many black leaders in the township have said even if they were elected, this would not lead any real power to make changes in Soweto.
Soweto has an estimated population of one-and-a-quarter million people, but before the polls opened, less than half the three-hundred-thousand eligible voters had even registered on the election roll.
On Monday (20 February), more voting took place, this time in Johannesburg itself. Zulus living in the area had the opportunity to vote for candidates for the Kwa Zulu Government, currently led by paramount Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, the Homeland's Chief Minister. Zulus living and working in South Africa were urged to go to special polling stations set up in all the major centres.
This is the first general election Kwa Zula has had since gaining partial independence from South Africa. The voting is scheduled to continue through to Thursday (23 February), and results are not expected to be finalised until early next week. Chief Buthelezi, a strong critic of the South African Government's Apartheid policies, hopes that the elections will give his non-racial Inkatha movement the mandate he is looking for from the Zulu people, numbering close to five-and-a-half million.
The Inkatha organisation recently formed an alliance with bodies representing the country's Coloured (mixed race) and Indian populations, and provided he gets the Zulu support he expects, Chief Buthelezi plans a conference next month with the other parties to map out a charter for a non-racial South Africa. Reuters News Agency reports that Inkatha is likely to make a clean sweep of the twenty seats being contested.