Siyancuma Municipality independent councillor Benjamin ’Boeta’ Makabe will retain the ward and seats that he won in the local government elections, after 24 unstamped special votes led to a recounting debacle in Douglas.
SIYANCUMA Municipality independent councillor Benjamin “Boeta” Makabe will retain the ward and seats that he won in the local government elections, after 24 unstamped special votes led to a recounting debacle in Douglas.
The ANC requested a recount of the unstamped votes, where it believed that it could dramatically sway the outcome of the municipal election.
Community members were in an uproar and threatened to cause chaos in the town on Monday, as they accused the ANC of being afforded “preferential treatment” after the Electoral Commission (IEC) agreed to take the unstamped ballots into consideration.
The IEC legal services informed ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga on November 7 that the 24 special votes that were not stamped at the back of the ballots arose due to “an error/omission committed” by IEC staff.
Siyancuma is a hung municipality, where the ANC failed to secure more than 50 percent of the seats.
The ANC received six seats (52,12 percent of the vote), followed by the DA with three seats (25.1 percent).
Makabe, who contested as an independent candidate, received the third highest share of the vote with 11.19 percent, where he was awarded two seats.
The FF+ and EFF received one seat each.
IEC electoral matters provincial manager Elkin Topkin said on Tuesday that the ANC submitted an objection to the commission in terms of section 65 of the Electoral Act on November 7.
“The objection was made on the basis that the 24 uncounted ballots could have a material impact on the overall results. At no stage did we have any knowledge as to which parties were marked off on these ballot papers,” said Topkin.
He pointed out that the independent candidate won the ward by a small margin of nine votes.
“If one of the parties had won by a big margin, it would not make any sense to do a recount. Recounting was scheduled to take place on November 8 at 10am as the Siyancuma office manager was out of town on November 7 and needed to convene a meeting with all affected political parties.”
Topkin stated that the ballots were not stamped due to the “negligence of staff” at the voting station.
“Therefore, the IEC did not wish to penalise the voters or the parties.”
He added that IEC staff drove through to Douglas on Monday, where they engaged with political parties.
“Opposition parties and the independent candidate were concerned that the unstamped ballots would be swopped. They also complained about the possible interference in election processes.
“It was initially thought that it would be a simple process to isolate and retrieve the disputed unstamped ballots. However, it was discovered that these special votes were mixed with other spoilt ballots.
“This information was presented to the board and administrators of the IEC, whereupon it was decided to also consider the unstamped ballots as spoilt votes.”
Topkin noted that there was a keen interest in the recounting process, where community members gathered outside the voting station.
“The Public Order Police were on the scene in case of any eventualities. If the commission decided to go ahead with the recounting, we were considering moving the ballots to Kimberley with a police escort for safekeeping. A ticking time bomb was averted when the IEC decided not to go ahead with the recounting after about three hours of deliberations.”
Topkin stated that the outcome of the Siyancuma results would not be altered.
He added that the election of council representatives for the district municipalities would be completed on Wednesday.