Ballot mix-up mars by-elections in Nelson Mandela Bay

Concerns raised over incorrect voting papers


As voters slowly trickled into the voting stations to make their mark in by-elections in Nelson Mandela Bay’s Ward 35 and Ward 37, the process was far from smooth, with those contesting taking issue with wrong ballot papers appearing at certain stations.
The appearance of ballot papers belonging to Ward 35 at the Tinkerbell creche voting station in Ward 37 caused a commotion on Wednesday as parties raised concerns about how this would affect their candidates.
About 100 votes were cast in the wrong ward, an issue all parties raised with the Independent Electoral Commission.
IEC regional supervisor Crosby Bacela said it was simply a case an of an IEC booklet being misplaced.
“The booklet was swapped from Ward 35 to Ward 37.
“It has been agreed that counting will be done and those [votes] which were for Ward 35 will be separated and added to the parties affected.
“It’s been resolved amicably,” Bacela said.
DA federal chair Athol Trollip said he was pleased by the voter turnout and did not want to pre-empt anything.
“I am pleased that DA voters came out in significant numbers last Wednesday [for the national elections] and the enthusiasm is still the same.
“I thought there would be voter fatigue but I only experienced enthusiasm,” he said.The ANC, DA, ACDP, Patriotic Alliance and newcomer the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) were represented in the by-election.Wards 35 and 37 were previously led by Trevor Louw and Neville Higgins respectively.Their membership was terminated by the DA after they turned against the party and sided with the present coalition government at a council meeting in 2018. The DA had 57 seats in the council but, because of the vacancies, is down to 55.ANC regional task team convener Nceba Faku raised concerns about the fact that the DA’s councillor candidates were PR (proportional representation) councillors.“We are very concerned about the candidates of the other parties that are current councillors while they have not resigned from council,” he said.“Our legal interpretation is that the councillor must first resign and then stand as a normal resident in the ward.”The DA’s Ward 2 councillor, Renaldo Gouws, successfully contested the ward in the March by-election while he was a PR councillor for the DA.Asked why the ANC had not raised these concerns when Gouws stood in Ward 2, Faku said they had been preoccupied with campaigns for the 2019 general election, which the ANC won with 57.5% of the votes nationally and 68.74% provincially.“At that point we had not raised it sharply because we were preoccupied with the national election, but now we have more time to even consult with the legal team,” he said.“The fact that it was done there as a wrong action does not set a precedent to sustain the wrong thing.“Our legal team is addressing this matter.”Chatty Community Hall voting station presiding officer Eunice Marele said voting was going well but complained about a member of the ANC who had an issue with the DA occupying the municipal office inside the building.“He was here last week during the general election and he was here again complaining about the close proximity of the DA but what can I do [as an IEC employee]?“I can’t remove a structure,” Marele said.Speaking on both the concerns raised, Bacela said sections 16 and 17 of the Municipal Electoral Act were clear on what a candidate should be.“It’s clear that candidates must be registered in that municipality and two, they must fill in the prescribed form.“If they’re speaking about the Municipal Structures Act, then that is outside my jurisdiction,” Bacela said.On the DA office at the Chatty Hall, Bacela said it was a metro municipal office used by residents.

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