Good party accuses DA of voter fraud and abuse of resources in hotly contested George by-elections
This week will see three by-elections take place in the southern Cape municipality of George. While it’s all systems go, there have been claims of the DA abusing state resources and registering voters from outside the ward. The party denies this and says it is focused on winning wards previously held by long-time rivals, the Good party.
On Wednesday, three by-elections will take place in the Garden Route town of George, where Good will seek to reclaim the three seats it lost in April. However, the by-election has been marred by a claim by Good that the Democratic Alliance has committed voting fraud, which the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says it will investigate.
At the weekend, Good claimed voters had been registered to vote in Ward 20, but that they “don’t qualify to vote in the ward”.
“The list includes their real addresses and ID numbers,” said Good’s secretary-general, Brett Herron, in a statement. Herron said the party submitted affidavits to the IEC signed by DA canvassers who re-registered the voters who lived in Thembalethu.
Ward 20 in George is a suburb called Borchards. It does not include the suburb of Thembalethu.
“According to the canvassers, they acted under instruction and the fraud only became apparent to them after the re-registrations had been completed,” said Herron.
He said the IEC’s chief electoral officer had confirmed receipt of the complaint.
By Monday evening, Good had released more allegations against the DA, claiming that it had found 188 people registered to one address, despite only two people living in the house in Ward 16. Good then approached the Electoral Court to postpone the by-election.
PRESS RELEASE: New information has come to light pointing to serious corruption in the registration of voters in DA-led George ahead of by-elections.
On Monday GOOD received evidence of 188 voters all registered on the voter’s roll at the same address in Ward 16. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/KiE1FQ7Is1
— GOOD (@ForGoodZA) July 17, 2023
In response, the IEC said it was aware of Good’s allegations and would investigate and consider the matter before certification of the voters’ roll.
We are aware of the allegations by the GOOD Party of voter registration irregularities in Ward 20 of George Municipality due for a by-election on 19 July 2023. The Commission will investigate and consider the matter before certification of the voters’ roll.
— IEC South Africa (@IECSouthAfrica) July 17, 2023
Also at the weekend, the ANC claimed that DA Western Cape leader Tertuis Simmers had used George Municipality’s traffic services’ vehicles during a DA motorcade on Saturday afternoon.
Western Cape ANC provincial secretary, Neville Delport, said: “These are resources meant to be used for the safety of the public, not for party-political work”. He described the use of traffic police vehicles on a party’s campaign trail as a “clear abuse of state power”.
Delport said ANC members in the provincial legislature would push for answers from MECs over the issue. He also called for Simmers’ conduct to be investigated.
Meanwhile, the DA has dismissed the allegations.
“The DA remains steadfast and focused on the work that needs to be done at this week’s by-elections in wards 16, 20 and 27 in George. Our aim is to win all three wards and we will not be distracted,” said Simmers.
“We suggest that Good and the ANC not waste any more of residents’ time and let us get back to business. There is work to be done to restore service delivery that has been waning in these wards under Good,” he said.
The by-election came about when, in April, three Good ward councillors resigned from the party to join the DA. That not only left three wards without councillors, but it also left three of Good’s six seats on the George council vacant. However, one Good member, Richard Hector, recanted his resignation from the party, and despite Good claiming his resignation from the council was procedurally incorrect, Hector will fight for his seat in the tightly contested Ward 20 by-election under the Good banner.
While Good and the DA have made headlines during the by-elections, other political parties have also campaigned in the area, including the southern Cape’s Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners.
The Patriotic Alliance (PA), which is contesting all three wards, has also been out campaigning, with party president Gayton McKenzie leading the effort to claim its first seat on the municipal council.
Voting will continue on Wednesday unless the IEC decides differently.
DA labels Good’s claims as ‘last-ditch attempts’
On Tuesday evening, DA Western Cape leader Tertuis Simmers denied the claim made by Good, and described the comments made by Herron as “unsubstantiated”.
“The last-ditch attempts by Good to derail the George by-elections to avoid defeat have been exposed as lies born of desperation,” said Simmers, who added that the DA rejected all the alleged objections made against the voters’ roll.
Simmers said in the DA’s answering affidavit that it was canvassers who left Good and then joined the DA, and returned back to Good “following the alleged irregular canvassing that are at the heart of the fraud that Good itself is alleging”.
Simmers also said Good had not raised this concern of the 188 voters when this issue came up in 2021 when Good won the ward in 2021.
“The DA has [neither] committed fraud, nor has it misled either the IEC or the voters of George,” said Simmers. “The same cannot, however, be said for Good’s dishonest attempts to derail by-elections it fears losing, even with the support of the other ANC proxy, the Patriotic Alliance,” he added. DM