ANC supporters in an attempt to disrupt swearing-in of the new eThekwini council
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DURBAN - WHILE the swearing-in of the new eThekwini council was taking place inside the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Monday, a group of protesters outside demanded a response from the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) regarding its dispute with an ANC candidate.
The group from ward 78 in uMlazi, who said they had voted for independent candidate Siphiwe Msomi, had initially planned to prevent IEC officials from continuing with the swearing-in, but arrived late at the stadium and found the officials were already inside. They were prevented from entering by security guards who demanded accreditation.
Dumisani Ngcobo, who led the protest, said they were angered by the IEC’s failure to respond to their complaint, adding that they wanted to know how the ANC candidate could be sworn in while their dispute remained unresolved.
“We are here today (Monday) to demand our response from the IEC. We did everything and followed all the procedures when lodging the dispute so we wonder why the IEC would allow the ANC candidate to be sworn in as councillor while the dispute had not been resolved. What’s the point of lodging a dispute if the IEC would go ahead with inauguration before it was resolved,” asked Ngcobo.
He added that out of seven voting stations, four were won by independent candidates but to their surprise an ANC candidate was declared the winner. Another protester, who asked not to be named, said they would never allow the ANC councillor to work in the area and would stage a sit-in in the offices until the independent was installed as a councillor because he had won.
Ngcobo alleged the election was rigged by the IEC area manager, against whom a fraud case had been opened.
According to Ngcobo, the official allegedly came to the voting station and asked for 500 ballot papers to take to another station where he said they were short; however, it was discovered that only 300 were delivered.
Ngcobo said they found out that there were enough ballot papers at the voting station where the official had alleged there was a shortage. He added that ballot papers were not sealed, and that IEC staff had said they were rushing to go home. Ngcobo also alleged that the ballot papers were not collected by the police or municipal vehicles.
IEC provincial spokesperson Thabani Ngwira said as far as he knew all disputes were resolved. He added that councillors’ lists could not have been gazetted if there were still pending disputes.
On the fraud case, provincial police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said all election-related cases were handled by the national police.
Later, there was a scare when ANC supporters stormed the venue to disrupt the meeting where the election of the new city mayor and other officials was to take place.
The incident happened around 6pm and some women councillors within the venue were heard and seen screaming as they ran for cover when the violent supporters toppled chairs and tables inside the gigantic marquee inside the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
It is not clear how the supporters breached security at the first gate before reaching the second one, pulling down the steel security fence to enter the venue.
The supporters, were who were in ANC regalia, initially camped outside the stadium patiently waiting for the voting to conclude.
The supporters arrived unexpectedly and were seen pushing gates to enter the venue. The SAPS, Durban metro police and private and municipal security guards did not try to thwart the security breach.
It was only when they stormed the venue and were retreating that the security forces appeared to act.
When the crowd stormed the venue, a small group of EFF supporters marched with them but went back.
Before the security breach, which appeared to have been engineered to collapse the sitting, there was an issue of power failure, forcing the sitting to temporarily adjourn.
Opposition councillors alleged that the power failure was engineered to save the ANC from losing the mayoral seat as it was clear that DA’s Nicole Graham was set to take on Mxolisi Kaunda of the ANC for the mayor position.