Elec­toral fraud lands 4 of­fi­cials in the dock

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - World News -

JO­HAN­NES­BURG. — Four South African I nde­pen­dent Elec­tora l Com­mis­sion offi cials are on trial for elec­toral fraud in the Met­sima­holo Mu­nic­i­pal­ity in the Free State.

Molefi Mabe, Me­shack Mot­latsi, Siya­ganga Nd­aba and Mokong Radebe are ac­cused of al­low­ing at least two un­reg­is­tered peo­ple, whose names did not ap­pear on the vot­ers roll, to vote dur­ing the 2016 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

If found guilty, t hey could face be­tween fi ve and 10 years im­pris­on­ment.

Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters (EFF) party agents opened the crim­i­nal case with po­lice aft er fail­ing to get any joy from the pre­sid­ing offi cer and other se­nior IEC man­agers in the area when they raised their ob­jec­tions.

EFF’s Seloane Mot­jeane, who laid the charge, told News24 that dur­ing a ran­dom check at their in­for­ma­tion desk out­side the polling sta­tion, they dis­cov­ered the two men were not reg­is­tered for the polls.

“Th ey were not on vot­ers roll and we even sent their iden­tity num­bers to the IEC’s ded­i­cated SMS num­ber and it said they were not reg­is­tered,” Mot- jeane said.

De­spite not ap­pear­ing on the vot­ers roll, their thumbs were inked, to show they had cast their vote, she said.

Mot­jeane said the pre­sid­ing offi cer claimed that the two had signed a spe­cial form which al­lowed them to vote even though the IEC has never made such al­lowance.

She said while the se­nior elec­toral man­agers agreed with them that it was “wrong” that the two were al­lowed to vote, they re­fused to change the elec­toral staff to fur­ther safe­guard the vot­ing pro­to­col.

Th ose on trial in­clude the pre­sid­ing offi cer at Iket­set­seng school, the other offi cial who held the ZIP scan­ning ma­chine that ver­ifi es if a per­son is reg­is­tered to vote, the per­son who over­saw the vot­ers roll and the per­son in charge of is­su­ing the bal­lot pa­per.

EFF Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Go­drich Gardee told News24 that they sus­pect this could have been “the tip of the ice­berg, not only in Met­sima­holo, but the whole coun­try”.

Th e two men who were al­lowed to vote told the NPA in their af­fi­davits that they went to the vot­ing sta­tion where a woman told them she was al­lowed to vote even though she was not reg­is­tered for the polls.

The men con­firm in their court pa­pers that when their iden­tity num­bers were scanned, the re­ceipt showed that they were not reg­is­tered to vote but the pre­sid­ing offi cer al­lowed him to pro­ceed in the queue to vote. They were later given a doc­u­ment to fi ll in their de­tails and sign.

“We think it will serve as a warn­ing to those who in­tend to be fraud­u­lent in 2019... It’s a very im­por­tant case. It is un­prece­dented in South Africa that IEC offi cials will ac­tu­ally be hauled be­fore a court of law on elec­toral fraud, what­ever the out­come might be, the po­lice acted swift ly and NPA was de­ci­sive,” Gardee said.

Th e hotly con­tested mu­nic­i­pal­ity was the fi rst in the Free State to be gov­erned by a DA coali­tion, aft er it bandied to­gether with the EFF, the Free­dom Front Plus (FF+) and Met­sima­holo Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion (MCA) to un­seat the ANC.

How­ever, t he mu­nic­i­pal­ity has since col­lapsed and fresh elec­tions are sched­uled for Novem­ber.

Gardee said this case high­lights the need for vig­i­lance ahead of what is ex­pected to be a fierce elec­toral con­tes­ta­tion in 2019.

It is un­der­stood that the IEC na­tional of­fice was not aware that their of­fi­cials were out on bail and fac­ing trial for elec­toral fraud.

News24 con­tacted spokesper­son Kate Bapela on Wed­nes­day, who was un­aware of the case but said she will in­ves­ti­gate and re­vert. How­ever, at time of pub­li­ca­tion she did not re­spond to phone calls.

Th e NPA confi rmed that the trial started on Wed­nes­day and will con­tinue un­til Fri­day at the Sa­sol­burg Mag­is­trate’s Court.

In a sep­a­rate de­vel­op­ment, t he African Na­tional Con­gress is again in court in two prov­inces as more branches al­lege ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties ahead of the party’s hotly con­tested De­cem­ber elec­tive con­fer­ences.

In t he North West, t he party wants the High Court in Mahikeng to re­scind an Au­gust judg­ment that in­ter­dicted an elec­tive con­fer­ence by the Bo­janala re­gion, aft er dis­grun­tled mem­bers ar­gued that at least 40 branches were not con­sti­tu­tion­ally launched.

Th ey have cited ANC sec­re­tary gen- eral Gwede Man­tashe, and pro­vin­cial and re­gional lead­ers as re­spon­dents.

Th e East­ern Cape’s big­gest re­gion, OR Tambo, has also hauled the party to court to nul­lify the out­comes of a re­gional elec­tive con­fer­ence, ex­pected to fur­ther de­lay the pro­vin­cial elec­tive con­fer­ence.

Th e con­fer­ence has al­ready been post­poned three times.

The ANC in North West will be rep­re­sented by Ad­vo­cate Th em­beka Nguck­aitobi, who rep­re­sented the ANC mem­bers who won their legal bat­tle in KwaZulu-Natal this week.

The KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg nul­lifi ed the 2015 pro­vin­cial con­fer­ence on Tues­day aft er dis­grun­tled mem­bers ar­gued that there was vote rig­ging and other ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties ahead of - and at - the con­fer­ence. Th e PEC has said it would ap­peal the judg­ment.

While the judg­ment on Septem­ber 12 had no real im­pact on the branches that will nom­i­nate the new party lead­er­ship and elect del­e­gates to rep­re­sent them at the elec­tive con­fer­ence, the out­comes of the North West and East­ern Cape court de­ci­sions could aff ect the up­com­ing con­fer­ence. — News24

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