Polling stations and vaccination sites next to each other in South Africa

More than 26 million South Africans began Monday morning to go to the polls for municipal elections at high risk for the party in power since the end of apartheid, the ANC, which could for the first time fall below 50% of the vote.
Polling stations opened at 05:00 GMT. Only 26.2 million South Africans are registered to vote for their representatives in some 250 municipalities, out of a voting age population of about 40 million.
For years, the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela’s historic party that has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid 27 years ago, has been losing ground.
Several leaders, most notably former president Jacob Zuma, have been accused of looting the country’s coffers and are in serious trouble with the law, while unemployment is at a record high of more than 30 per cent in an economy that was already in recession before the Covid-19 crisis.
In the 2016 municipal elections, the ANC recorded its worst score (54%) and lost key cities including Pretoria and Johannesburg.
On the other side, however, the opposition remains divided. The Democratic Alliance (DA), still perceived as a white party, and the radical left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which managed to put together unlikely coalitions in some municipalities five years ago, will run as a united front this time.
Voters will also have the choice of an unprecedented number of independent candidates – 1,700 out of 60,000 – who could muddy the waters in an election in which the ANC is playing a big role ahead of the 2024 general election.
Some 1,000 vaccination sites were set up near some of the country’s 23,000 polling stations, targeting neighborhoods where immunization use is low.