Tempers have been flaring since Wednesday in Alexandra, when some community members began protesting over the alleged lack of transparency during the elections. BHEKI SIMELANE & THAPELO LEKGOWA went to court on Monday to find out what it’s all about. The anger continues, and the issues are mired in local dramas.
Several EFF and IFP members, who were at the Randburg District Court on Monday morning to support those who had been charged with public violence, confirmed that the cause of the chaos in Alex was the lack of transparency during Wednesday’s national and provincial elections.
Their anger arises from a single incident in which local ANC ward 75 councillor, Chris Mabunda, is alleged to have been involved with the processes of the IEC. Residents who were at court alleged that Mabunda went into the IEC station on Alex’s 8th Avenue on Wednesday, just after the votes had been counted, and ordered that there be a recount, to which there was no objection from IEC officials.
Photo: An EFF member holds an IFP election poster at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court, Randburg, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.
IFP member Bongani Manqele, who is from Hluhluwe in KZN but lives in Alex, said the protesters’ concern wasn’t whether the recount ordered by Mabunda resulted in an increase or decrease of the concerned parties’ votes, but that the councillor got involved at all. “The reason for all the post-election violence in Alex is the intrusion and involvement of councillor Mabunda in the execution of IEC processes. This is the reason why we are so angry. All parties had party agents who represented them during Wednesday’s election. That is why the invasion of the local IEC centre by Mabunda is so suspicious,” said Manqele.
Party agents at the polling station in Alexandra alerted Manqele and other IFP members of the presence of Councillor Mabunda and his order for a recount. Manqele went with other IFP supporters to the polling station and found that Mabunda was indeed there.
“When we arrived there were ballot boxes being loaded into a car with a big ANC sticker. When we asked why a car with an ANC sticker was being used, because the IEC had its own cars and even metro police cars could have been used, the answer we got from IEC officials was that the car had been hired. Understand that we were at the IEC station to check on the presence of councillor Mabunda during a time when he shouldn’t have been at the IEC station and then we also stumble on another display of the lack of transparency in the loading of ballot boxes into an ANC car. This was still not the main issue but it did fuel the claim by opposition party members that there was no transparency,” said Manqele.
Photo: On the left, IFP members are briefed by their leaders on the outcomes of the court. On the right are EFF members. Randburg, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.
Another IFP member who preferred to remain anonymous added that the later discovery of abandoned EFF ballot papers added to their doubts about the credibility of the poll. “If the IEC wanted us to believe their own claim that the election was free and fair, they should make sure that the carrying out of all their processes is above board. Why is it that a previously highly credited body like the IEC wouldn’t have a proper way of disposing of all material in a way that will not raise any suspicions? How did they dispose of such material in previous national elections? This was just a blatant display of how the IEC had failed to exercise transparency, especially in Alexandra,” said the IFP member.
During Monday’s court appearance, both EFF and IFP members said their next step would be to ask that fresh elections be held in the province – and if not the whole of Gauteng, then at least in Alexandra.
Asked what further redress they would seek in the event that their wish for fresh elections to be conducted is rejected, an IFP member known only as Mr Xaba from Paulpietersburg said they would make things very difficult for everyone. “No child will go to school. No community member will even be allowed to attend the local clinic. All we want now as the local IFP is that fresh elections be held in the whole of Gauteng or just in Alexandra. If not, then things will no doubt get out of hand, that is our promise to the government. No government security personnel will enter the township. No government project will be allowed to go ahead. We will frustrate every government initiative to show our dissatisfaction with the way things have been done lately.”
Alex resident and activist Amos Qaba was also skeptical. “We can be cheated, yes, but not in front of our eyes. The ANC is now taking us for shit. Alexandra will be ungovernable. The ANC will not govern us in Alex. We want nothing else but re-votes. We do not trust the process that was undertaken by the IEC, the police and the ANC on 7 May 2014. I witnessed with my own eyes the ballots that were taken out of a car with ANC stickers. Why use an ANC car and not a police vehicle maybe to transport the ballots? We would accept the results only if the ANC did not interfere with the process,” said Qaba.
Photo: A Fighter is either making a threat or really is ready to be arrested. Randburg, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.
Councillor Mabunda denied the allegations against him and said he never ordered a re-count of the votes. He was only at the voting station to collect the ANC observers because it had gotten late in the evening. “The rumor that I left the voting station with ballots was spread by two women [whose names] I will not mention. They stay at the hostel and one is a leader of the IFP Women’s Brigade. What they did was feed the community wrong information and now innocent community members are arrested while they are still waiting free outside.”
Mabunda continued, “They are against me because I am the councillor of the ANC and the IFP is doing this because of the votes they lose to the ANC. I am a hard worker and the people are appreciating the work I do.” He says if people really believe the allegations against him, they should open a case with the police, and claims the issue dates back to past grievances with IFP members who he said swore at him when he campaigned door-to-door and also tried to burn down his house.
Tensions have been running high among concerned party members in Alex since Wednesday’s poll and this could have been the reason why the venue of the court hearing was changed in the eleventh hour, to make it harder for aggrieved party members to attend. Residents demonstrated outside the Alex courthouse on Friday after some protestors were arrested. Things spiralled out of control and the army was deployed to the township. After a number of foreign-owned stores were looted and one foreigner was reportedly killed in the protest, alarms were raised about the risk of xenophobic violence.
Photo: Another five years of begging; this citizen just hasn’t realized. Randburg, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.
There were over 100 protesters in court on Monday. From the first two court sessions, each of the accused was granted bail set at R500. A request for contributions for bail for the accused comrades was made on the spot and members threw coins, as well as notes into a red beanie. Provincial EFF convener Mgcini Tshwaku said the contribution would help both sets of party members, not just those from the EFF. “Call whoever you know for money. I will do the same. Let everyone seek a donation wherever they can source it,” Tshwaku said. He said he would then call the EFF Commander-in-Chief Julius Malema and let him know of the latest developments.
While political parties have been focused on the election results, on Saturday Malema mentioned the strike in Alex. “People in Alexandra, we call upon you to accept defeat. Do it in a dignified manner, don’t put SA into ashes,” he told the township. DM
With additional reporting by Greg Nicolson
Photo: AMABUTHO, the IFP defence wing during the Apartheid era, comes out now “because the ANC is asking for war”. The t-shirt has been kept since 1993. Randburg, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.
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