Johannesburg, May 29 (PTI) South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has said that the results of Wednesday's general elections will not be finalised before Sunday.

With thousands of people still queuing at polling stations in major cities across the country in the last hour of voting, IEC Chief Executive Sy Mamabolo assured that all those in the queue by 9 pm (00:30 IST) would be allowed to cast their vote.

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Mamabolo was addressing the media at the IEC Results Centre in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening about the progress made on voting across the country.

“No South African will be denied their right to vote,” he said.

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He also addressed a wide range of issues raised by the media, from electrical outages affecting electronic voting machines and voters storming polling stations to early closures of polling stations and the residence of a political party leader being used as a polling station.

He said all the issues raised would be investigated.

“We are experiencing a late surge and are processing a large number of voters in certain areas, particularly the metropolitan areas in Gauteng, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape (provinces),” he said, dismissing suggestions that voting might move into a second day.

"We have no plan for a second day of voting. Voting will happen until it concludes and until everyone in the queue by 9 pm is allowed to vote," he said.

Mamabolo added that the IEC was expecting a significantly larger voter turnout than the 66 per cent of the last elections in 2019 but would not venture an estimate until all voting had been concluded.

Earlier in the day, IEC Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Masego Sheburi said that counting would begin immediately after the closure of polling stations, with the first results from small voting stations expected by about 04:00 IST on Thursday.

But final results were not expected before Sunday, Sheburi said, asserting that the process would take longer due to a third ballot paper that had been introduced this year, as well as a large number of political parties and, for the first time, independent candidates on the ballot papers.

Those voters from among the 26 million registered citizens who turned up at the polls were given three ballot papers – one for political parties only for 200 seats in the National Assembly (Parliament); a second for regional political parties or independents to fill the other 200 seats in the Assembly; and a third for independents and political parties to be elected to the nine provincial legislatures in the country.

The unprecedented interest from both prospective politicians and voters comes amid widespread predictions that the African National Congress (ANC) could lose its majority for the first time since Nelson Mandela was installed as South Africa's first democratically-elected president 30 years ago.

Analysts cited factors for this as rampant public dissatisfaction with the corruption at all levels of government, which has led to poor service delivery, including rolling electricity blackouts for a number of years and a breakdown of rail and road transport infrastructure, especially at the municipal level.

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