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South Africans Vote in National, Provincial Polls


South Africans are voting in the country's fourth election since the advent of democracy in 1994. Voting across the country is proceeding well with very few problems reported.

The Johannesburg suburb of Yeoville is one of the most diverse in South Africa, where people of all races, many nationalities, well-off and poor, live side-by-side. A former whites-only suburb, Yeoville has high levels of community activism and strong community organizations. Its people are eager participants in democratic processes such as elections.

Political situation improving

Papa, a 30-something voter who has lived in Yeoville for 10 years tells VOA he is pleased new political parties are emerging, because he says, it is the diversity of opinion and choice that makes democracies work.

"I think you need voices of so many people in this country and that there should be balance, and you know when people express themselves and express their views, and those views should be respected," Papa said. "Democracy requires that ... It requires that you should listen to everyone and that people should speak freely."

Education is key concern

Papa believes that much has improved for South Africans in the past 15 years, but he adds much more work is needed, especially in the area of education.

"I think strong emphasis should be made on education," Papa said. "I think education is key because if you educate young people, you liberate them. Because it means that they will be able to do things for themselves, and dependency will become less and less."

Momshila came to live in Yeoville as soon as it was legal for black South Africans to purchase property anywhere they wished. She says the cost of services are high and residents get little in return.

"Us, as people who are owning houses it is even worse, the rates and taxes, the water, the electricity, are really, really killing us," Momshila said. "And I am not talking about crime, crime - it is a disaster."

Crime rate too high

Yeoville is one of the few communities in South Africa where crime levels are slowly decreasing, but the weekly crime report to the community from the Yeoville police station still includes murder, break-ins, car-jacking, and rape.

Voter Priscilla says the new government must focus on significantly reducing crime - especially with the FIFA 2010 World Cup coming to South Africa.

"Like they must take care of crime, which is the first thing to take care of especially when we are coming to 2010 next year, we are looking forward to see people being safe walking the street at night, or any time they want to; anywhere too," Priscilla said.

Election going smoothly

As in most places across the country, voting in Yeoville was smooth and problem free, and the wait of about 90-minutes afforded residents an opportunity to chat and complain about the first cold snap of autumn.

There were a handful of problems, including some pre-marked ballot papers at one voting station in Kwazulu/Natal and a small number of stations who did not get voting materials on time.

Provisional results are expected to start coming in early Thursday, with possible trends emerging by late in the day. Official results will not be released before Saturday.

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