South Africa

ROAD TO 2024 ELECTIONS

Electoral Commission of SA quashes MK party’s vote-rigging allegations

Electoral Commission of SA quashes MK party’s vote-rigging allegations
Defence Minister Thandi Modise said during the media briefing that Natjoints had not and would not be engaging the MK party. Natjoints had called for calm and would not deal with people looking to tarnish the name of South Africans. (Photos: Shaun Swingler and Chanel Retief)

The Electoral Commission of SA has quashed vote-rigging allegations made by members of Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto Wesizwe party. The commission has further condemned the party’s members who have been camping outside one of its warehouses.

The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has clarified that videos on social media of alleged vote-rigging actually depict its planned logistical arrangements and storage of election materials and ballots in preparation for the first day of special voting on Monday, 27 May.

The videos in question are of activities at the IEC storage sites in Chesterville and Hammarsdale in KwaZulu-Natal. uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party members have claimed the videos depict an attempt to rig the general elections.

In a statement on Sunday, IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela assured the public that transporting and guarding these materials was facilitated by law enforcement to prevent any foul play.

“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-hour 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 statement reads.

MK members were said to be camping outside an IEC warehouse at which the ballots were delivered.

“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,” the IEC statement reads.

The commission also denounced any threats to its staff members. This follows an incident in eThekwini where a presiding officer was woken up in the middle of the night when concerns were raised about bulk material stored at the Baptist church voting station in Chesterville. The materials were then taken to Cato Manor police station.

“It is part of the logistical plan for the commission to deliver bulk material to voting stations ahead of election day. This is meant to ensure that voting stations open on time as only security material such as ballot papers will be delivered on the day of voting.

“The commission strongly condemns threats to its staff. No party nor its representatives have authority to gain access to private homes of electoral staff. No party nor its representatives may take control of election material without being authorised,” the statement reads.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024

MK party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela said the videos affirmed the MK party’s long-held view that the IEC was partisan towards “Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC”.

“These incidents, which our members informed us, are occurring in other provinces such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, and North West, are particularly alarming as they compound the growing distrust amongst a majority of South Africans towards the IEC — a view which the MK party has repeatedly raised.

“The IEC’s relentless collusion with the ConCourt judges to have President Zuma barred from participating in parliamentary elections — an action beyond its mandate — exemplifies its increasingly partisan stance against MK party and President Zuma, for Ramaphosa and his ANC,” he said.

He urged stakeholders, including civil society and international observers, to join the party in closely monitoring the electoral process.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ConCourt stamps Zuma’s ticket to political wilderness, throws MK into uncharted waters

High-risk voting stations

Meanwhile, SAPS Deputy National Commissioner Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili said the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) was ready to ensure safety and security throughout the elections.

Speaking to the media on Sunday, she said the unit had identified 632 high-risk voting stations around SA which it would monitor.

“The task at hand is one that is immense, but through past experiences of ensuring the safety and security of past elections, we are confident that we are ready for this next phase. Indeed, the road to a safe, secure and peaceful election requires the commitment and effort from all stakeholders including our communities. We are grateful that thus far, our communities and South Africans from all walks of life have continued to display responsible conduct and behaviour,” she said.

She said a team would closely monitor social media for any suspicious activities.

Election day resources

“Amongst the team that is deployed is the social media team that is continuously updating NatJoints of any such warnings that are being issued sporadically across the country that are election-related. The team is alerting on intelligence collection on the social media space without being specific to anyone.”

She encouraged parties to practise tolerance and warned social media users not to peddle fake news.

“We … caution responsible citizens, especially social media users, [against] spreading fake news. You are all urged to verify facts first before sharing any information which often leads to unnecessary confusion and panic.

“We will not tolerate any incitement of violence on any platforms. Our intelligence communities and cybercrime units are closely monitoring online users. You are warned not to step out of line,” Mosikili said. DM

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