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Mamabolo: There is an effort to undermine the outcome of the elections

Written by on May 29, 2024

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has issued a warning against what it called orchestrated efforts to undermine the outcome of Wednesday’s general elections.

Chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo told journalists on Tuesday evening that law enforcement agencies had made two arrests, with police investigating two cases of interference with electoral processes.

The first incident happened in Hendrina in Mpumalanga, where representatives of an unnamed political party followed a presiding officer who was taking a used ballot box back to the storage site. The party representatives handled the box, breaking the rule which says only officials of the commission may do so, Mamabolo said, adding that one person had been arrested on Monday. 

He said party agents were free to observe the elections and to raise objections to the results, but were prohibited from handling electoral material.

“Again in Chesterville [in KwaZulu-Natal] followers of a political party went to the home of a presiding officer, under the cover of the night. They tied him up to force him to account for the bulk material already delivered to the police station,” Mamabolo said, adding that one person was arrested.

“The commission views this as a very egregious offence. It is a violation of the privacy of that presiding officer and actually undermining that presiding officer’s human dignity.”

The IEC head condemned what he said were attempts by some political parties to undermine the IEC’s efforts to deliver free and fair elections. He said while the commission welcomed and encouraged vigilance by contestants and observers in the electoral process, this must be exercised within the confines of the law. 

“Interference with the unfolding electoral programme, logistics handlings or intimidation of electoral staff cannot be justified as vigilance,” he said.

Mamabolo said the commission had addressed concerns about indelible ink following reports after the 2019 elections that some people had been able to remove it and vote more than once at different polling stations.

“Our own assessment of the issue is that the ink is holding. Well, generally there may be wrong usage of some of the pens which results in it not lasting but you’ve got to evaluate that control against other controls that are at play,” he said.

“You’ve got to look at the issue in the light of the fact that you can’t go and vote elsewhere unless you have applied [to] vote at a different station if you cannot make it to your registered voting station.”

Mamabolo said about 360 000 voters had been granted approval to cast ballots outside their voting districts.

He said 170 organisations had been accredited as election observers, 18 of them international, with members of both the African Union and South African Development Community missions already on the ground at polling stations.

The post Mamabolo: There is an effort to undermine the outcome of the elections appeared first on The Namibian.

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