MKP, IEC clash over ‘vote rigging’



Published May 27, 2024


Two days before the elections, a tug-of-war has emerged between the MK Party and the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), with the newly formed party accusing the electoral body of working in cahoots with the ANC in rigging the elections.

This comes after viral videos emerged on Saturday showing ballot papers stored in a room at warehouses in Hammarsdale and Chesterville, with the MK Party making accusations that the election material was in the possession of a person wearing an ANC T-shirt.

However, the IEC has accused the MK Party of interference and said that the ballot papers were kept at storage facilities ahead of the special votes process, which starts on Monday.

IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said the videos from Hammarsdale and the Chesterville depots depict their planned logistical arrangements and storage of election materials as they prepare for the first day of special voting.

Bapela said these were 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-hours 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 Commission notes that the individuals seen in the video entered the warehouse without authorisation and filmed their unauthorised activities. The Commission further notes that members of MK Party are now at the provincial warehouse of the Commission where the ballots were returned.

“No party will be allowed to gain entry into the warehouse premises of the Commission. We instruct the leadership of the MK Party to immediately leave the warehouse as the Commission urgently needs to finalise the distribution of election material,” Bapela said in a statement.

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 alleged stolen ballot papers, which were 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 (yesterday) 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.

The party’s national spokesperson, Nhlamulo Ndhlela, said they had also experienced incidents in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, and North West.

“(These incidents) are particularly alarming as they compound the growing distrust among a majority of South Africans towards the IEC – a view which the MK Party has repeatedly raised,” said Ndhlela.

DA KZN premier candidate Chris Pappas on Sunday condemned the action of MK members.

“It is disturbing that both the private security contracted by the IEC and the SAPS allowed this breach to take place, seemingly without response from them.

“There must be urgent and immediate consequences for MK for this breach, and there must be consequent management for the security company and SAPS. It is vitally important that voters have trust in both the IEC and SAPS to guarantee the safety of all voters against threats of violence by parties like MK,” Pappas said in a statement.

He said the party was now consulting its legal team on what possible legal steps may need to be taken to ensure the IEC and SAPS uphold their constitutional duty to hold free and fair elections.

Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe from the University of Zululand said he believes that the systems the IEC has put in place will not tolerate any possibility of voter fraud.

More than 17 000 police officers will be deployed across KwaZulu-Natal for the duration of the election.

The eThekwini Municipality has been placed under close surveillance for the duration of the general elections after police identified it as one of the areas in the province with a high risk of disruptive protests, said KZN deputy police commissioner Major-General Phumelele Makoba.

The Mercury