Former South African Thabo Mbeki said “God knows, I don’t know.” when asked who he thought was going to win the elections as he and his wife, Zanele, caused a stir when they voted in Parktown, Johannesburg, reports say.
Mbeki, who was “recalled” by his ANC party last year, came to the polling station dressed in a snappy business suit. He and his wife were soon swamped by journalists as they stepped out of their black BMW.
Mbeki was greeted with hugs and handshakes by a line of election officials, who had been waiting for his arrival at the Holy Family Convent off Oxford Street.
Reports say Inside the station, Mbeki said, “Chief, where’s my ID book?,” and one of his bodyguards rushed over with it.
Once he had emerged from the voting booth, a brave journalist shouted, “Mr Mbeki, who are you going to vote for?”, setting off clucks of disapproval from Bam.
“I am sure that [question] is unconstitutional, this is a secret ballot,” said Mbeki, laughing as he was crowded by cameras.
Outside the voting station, he paused briefly to take questions, using the chance to encourage people to vote. “I think the future of our country depends in part on people voting according to their conscience,” said Mbeki, who was forced to resign as president last year.
He said the campaigning period was very interesting as people had a chance to put forward many views. “It was good that parties could communicate their views. It exposes people to what parties think is better for the country.”
Meanwhile, a presiding officer was taken in by the police at Ulundi, in KwaZulu-Natal after marked ballot papers were found at a polling station.
According to the ANC, two boxes containing 100 marked ballot papers were found at 19B South Hall in Ulundi. In addition, an Independent Electoral Commission officials at the Ulundi polling station said an envelope which was supposed to contain 53 special votes had been found with 104 votes inside.
Another batch of ballot papers found had been marked in the IFP’s favour, the officials said.
The ANC has expressed shock at the finds. Voting at the affected polling station was delayed with officials still trying to sort out the problem at 8am.
IEC regional supervisor Xolani Ngcobo said the deputy presiding officer would take charge at the polling station, which was being monitored by a number of international election observers. Another IEC spokesman Mawethu Mosery said the matter was now in the hands of the police.