POLITICS

Metsimaholo By-Elections Marred By Vote Rigging Claims

This dissolution saw former alliance partners the SACP and the ruling ANC pitted against each other for the first time.

30/11/2017 06:35 SAST | Updated 30/11/2017 06:35 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
Locals are seen outside a polling station during tense local munincipal elections in Vuwani, South Africa's northern Limpopo province, August 3, 2016.

Allegations of by-election polls being rigged have surfaced in Sasolburg's Zamdela, in the Free State, where voting took place on Wednesday.

Zamdela was alive with election fever with many cars and minibuses sporting the faces of party favourites and supporters dressed in party regalia gathered in tents near voting stations.

The by-elections in pothole-riddled Metsimaholo municipality took place following the dissolution of the local coalition council in July after it failed to fulfil its obligation to approve a 2017/2018 budget – a constitutional mandate of the council.

The situation was further exacerbated by coalition-backed Mayor Sello Hlasa's sudden crossover to the ANC.

SACP goes head-to-head with ANC

This dissolution saw former alliance partners the SACP and the ruling ANC pitted against each other for the first time with the SACP lining up 42 candidates.

However, there have been allegations from SACP party members and voters that polls were rigged as some voters were made to go vote in wards far from where they had registered, while some voting stations allegedly had people who were deceased on their voting lists.

READ: SACP v ANC: '1,000 Dead Voters On Metsimaholo Election Roll'

However, Jabulani Tshabalala, a provincial electoral officer in the area, said that he had not received any complaints.

I have heard that there has been a suspicion of rigging, but there has been no objection or complaint laid with me. Everything is going well, except for a few hiccups here and there.

At another voting station, voters were stopped from voting when two voters from another area claimed that they could not vote because the station did not have a form they required.

The EFF's Godrich Gardee said he came to intervene and pleaded that the station be opened.

He said no one, except the electoral commission or the court, had the right to close a voting station and "interfere with the constitutional right of innocent people" to vote.

Another voter said it was suspicious that party agents weren't allowed to come into the voting station in the morning before voting began when boxes were being offloaded.

"We were not given an explanation, that is wrong in itself. Secondly, there are documents that party agents need to have in order to register their complaints and whatever. If those documents are not here, it means there's a problem," the man said.

Chaos broke out when members of the media were barred from filming outside a voting station because the crowd said they did not want media to film outside the station.

There are 82 666 registered voters in the municipality. Voting ended at 21:00.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Bloemfontein High Court ruled that the provincial conference of the ANC in the Free State could not go ahead this weekend because previous branch general meetings were found to have been unconstitutional and in breach of ANC's constitution.

-- News24