Durban - The NFP’s victory in two by-elections held last week in Nongoma is now under threat, following objections lodged at the weekend by the ANC and the IFP with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
The NFP emerged victorious – albeit with a small margin – in two of the three by-elections held in Nongoma on Wednesday. All the wards had been previously controlled by the IFP until the resignation of three ward councillors to join the ANC.
But the challenge mounted by the ANC and the IFP could mean there are new winners for both wards.
In Ward 10 NFP candidate Mbongeleni Ntombela won the ward after he got 906 votes. But now the ANC – whose candidate Bhekithemba Nyembe came second with 903 votes – has claimed that three special votes were not counted.
If those votes were cast for the ANC candidate, this could mean that the ANC’s tally of votes would go up to 906 votes – the same as the NFP got.
ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said this had been an “unforgivable” mistake in the counting of special votes. He said the ANC was not bitter about its loss, but just wanted the process to be fair.
The IFP has also lodged an objection in the ward 11 by-election in which, it claims, 21 special votes were not counted. The presiding officer had claimed to have forgotten to stamp the 21 ballots and the votes could not be counted, said Albert Mncwango, the deputy national chairman.
The IFP believes the 21 votes not counted could significantly alter the Ward 11 results in its favour. In the ward the IFP candidate Nkosinathi Nzimande received 880 votes, just 9 votes short of the NFP’s Nombuyana Ncube who emerged victor with 889 votes.
“At least ten or 15 of those special votes that were not counted are our votes. We know because people who cast special votes are known and we know how many of them are our members. So we believe that this could have a material impact,” Mncwango said.
He believed his party had a strong case, but maintained that the IFP felt it could have been sabotaged deliberately.
“It’s funny how the presiding officer just conveniently forgot to stamp the ballots when a similar thing has happened in ward 10 as well.”
Mncwango said the IFP would now request that new presiding officers be appointed for Nongoma before next year’s elections, claiming that the current officers had allowed many irregularities in the past.
“Even in 2011 (local government elections) we suspected that there were a lot of shenanigans taking place in Nongoma and we raised these matters. In a by-election in ward 12 this year people were bussed in to register in that ward. We raised these issues with the IEC which until now is still investigating,” he said.
KwaZulu-Natal electoral officer Mawethu Mosery said the IEC had received the objections late on Friday and would therefore start with its investigations today.
“By law we are required to declare the results of the election within seven days of the election. The commission would look at the subject and come into a conclusion by Wednesday,” Mosery said.
He said other than the issues raised by the two parties the IEC was satisfied with the way the Nongoma by-election had been conducted.
But the NFP was not too happy with the objections, saying it wanted its two candidates to be inaugurated as councillors without any further delay.
“The people of Nongoma chose the NFP and those who are coming up with these objections should rather put their time to good use by going back to the drawing board. The ANC won ward five but we never complained as the NFP.”