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By Hein Kaiser


Feeding the army of election support staff is costing millions

From cooking to packing kits, parties have mobilised an army of volunteers to support the 23 000 voting stations nationwide.

Today’s general election isn’t just a massive logistical operation to collect votes: thousands of party agents, councillors, candidates, and volunteers will be manning voting stations, along with legions of election officials.

And an army marches on its stomach. Parties have been preparing for weeks to assemble and distribute election station kits.

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Massive logistical effort

The logistical effort is massive and, when contemplating the more than 23 000 voting stations nationally, potentially a nightmare.

On average, each of the larger parties has a minimum of two representatives making up a party presence. There may be agents inside the voting station to oversee balloting and counting later.

“It’s a very, very long day,” said an ANC agent, “but the result of the election will make it worth it in the end.”

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The ruling party provides a stipend of about R400 to each person to fund meals and refreshments, the agent said.

Should a large organisation like the ANC have three representatives at each polling station, that would equate to 69 000 people – and that’s R27.6 million.

Add in representatives from the Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters and, to a lesser extent, ambitious contenders like the Freedom Front Plus and ActionSA, and it’s an army significantly larger than SA’s standing military and its reservists combined.

DA volunteers and activists cooking up a storm

In Gauteng, DA volunteers and activists have been cooking up a storm.

Ekurhuleni ward councillor Simon Lapping is responsible for several voting stations on the East Rand.

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Not only has he been packing food for the hundreds of representatives, his home was transformed into a massive kitchen for buttering sandwiches and giant pots simmering on the stove.

“We have also been packing voting station kits,” he said. “These comprise branded flags, gazebos, tables, chairs, crates of water and aids to ensure everyone gets through the day okay.”

An ActionSA activist told The Citizen that yesterday was spent sorting out the finishing touches to its logistical operation. He said ActionSA had more than 10 000 agents deployed nationally.

ActionSA rallies people to cook for party members at voting stations

Leader Herman Mashaba said the party had rallied activists, public representatives and members of their families to cook for party members at voting stations.

Wherever it’s not logistically possible to deliver meals, lunch money would be e-walleted to ensure that everyone is taken care of.

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Most parties will also have people in call centres and local offices, as well as volunteers to collect and drive voters to polling stations because every single vote counts.

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