Home South African IEC shrugs off vote-rigging claim

IEC shrugs off vote-rigging claim

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Commission dismisses allegations made on social media videos, saying they showed planned logistical arrangements.

In his address on Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa called on all parties, candidates, supporters and every South African to refrain from any action that could interfere with the due electoral process. Picture: Jacques Naude / Independent Newspapers

THE Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says additional measures have been implemented to secure various storage sites across the country.

This comes amid social media videos of ballot boxes at its storage sites in Chesterville and Hammarsdale in what some uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party supporters claimed to be rigging of the elections in KwaZulu-Natal.

Accusations were made that the election material was in the possession of a person wearing an ANC T-shirt.

However, the IEC said that the individuals seen in the videos had entered the warehouse without authorisation and filmed their “unauthorised activities”, which depicted the person criticising why ballot papers had already been delivered two days before the elections.

The IEC dismissed allegations of vote rigging, saying that the videos showed its “planned logistical arrangements” and storage of election materials as they prepare for the first day of special voting today.

A total of 1,668,076 South Africans have been approved for special votes. Of these, a total of 624,593 voters will be visited by election officers at their homes or places of confinement.

“These are legitimate and authorised arrangements for the distribution of ballot papers and other bulk material.

The planned security measures were that the trucks distributing ballot papers are escorted by SAPS to the local storage site.

“These storage sites will then be guarded on a 24-hour basis. This arrangement would ensure that the storage sites are protected against unauthorised entry, burglary and tampering with election materials, and ensure detailed control and recording of all items in storage,” the IEC said.

“We assure the public that additional measures have been implemented to secure these various storage sites across the country. We confirm that the Commission has possession of all election materials shown in these videos. This electoral material is being prepared for distribution to voting stations in time for the special votes.”

The IEC said that members of the MK Party were also at the provincial warehouse of the commission where the ballots were returned, but no party would be allowed to gain entry into the warehouse premises.

In the second incident, a presiding officer was woken at home in the middle of the night about bulk materials stored at the Baptist Church voting station in Chesterville.

These include voting booths, voting station signage/banners, and new unfolded ballot boxes.

“This bulk electoral material was taken to the Cato Manor police station in eThekwini, in KwaZulu-Natal. It is part of the logistical plan for the Commission to deliver bulk material to voting stations ahead of election day. This is meant to ensure that voting stations open on time as only security material such as ballot papers will be delivered on the day of voting.

The Commission strongly condemns threats to its staff,” the IEC said.

The IEC added that it was contemplating measures against individuals involved as their behaviour violates the Electoral Code of Conduct.

KZN is the leading province in terms of high-risk voting stations, according to the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints).

Deputy national commissioner Lieutenant-General Tebello Mosikili confirmed that cases were lodged after the Provincial Joint Operation and Intelligence Structure (ProvJoints) working with the IEC responded to the two incidents.

“If the plan of responding in KZN was inadequate we will revisit the plan.

We have a distribution plan in place categorised in terms of non-security material and security material. Deployments will equal the type of material that is being distributed or transported.

Also, additional stringent measures have been put in place to secure the storage sites. We have authorised personnel and agencies in place across the country to respond to these types of issues, including the access to certain areas where the materials are kept. We urge and emphasise that there is no political interference in security issues and we will respond to transgressions accordingly,” said Mosikili.

In his address on Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “We should all be concerned at reports that came out today about the obstruction of election activities, including unlawful entry at IEC storage sites in KwaZulu-Natal. We once again call upon all parties, candidates, supporters and every South African to refrain from any action that could interfere with the due electoral process. Regardless of the outcome, let this election further entrench our democracy and strengthen our commitment to uphold it.”

Responding to the IEC, the MK Party said its members stationed in Hammarsdale reported a suspicious truck loaded with voting material entering the area on Saturday. The party said the situation escalated as their members demanded accountability, which led to the involvement of senior SAPS officials and the subsequent seizure of the material, which was later secured under SAPS custody.

“Despite the volatile atmosphere, no arrests were made, although the materials were relocated to an IEC warehouse for safekeeping due to inadequate local storage facilities.

“Additionally, further reports emerged from a funeral parlour in Chesterville, where sealed boxes of voting materials were found and seized by the police, which were also intended for ANC members, allegedly,” read the MK Party statement.

Unisa political sciences Professor Dirk Kotze said: “This is a small incident.

“There are 23,000 voting stations, this is one. This was an issue about storage, in this case some people got close. I think the IEC is exceptionally well prepared.

“Even if they had lost those ballot papers, they can’t do anything with it. So it cannot influence the results. Because at each of the voting stations each ballot paper they can account for, each has unique numbers, they can match against what is in their boxes. If it doesn’t belong to the voting station, they cannot be counted. The system is well designed.”

* Additional reporting Okuhle Hlati

Cape Times

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