Monday, 01 November 2021 15:30

Presiding officer caught stuffing ballot box in eThekwini - IEC.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has confirmed that a presiding officer in eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal was arrested on Monday after allegedly stuffing marked ballots into a ballot box.

IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini, briefing the media in Tshwane at the commission’s results operations centre, said the matter was being investigated by the South African Police Service (Saps).

"This incident, which did not affect voting, is a testament to the in-built safeguards in the voting process that also include an active role for party and independent candidate agents," Mashinini said.

He said they were satisfied with the overall voting process so far despite some incidents of voting stations opening late due to community protests and a shortage of ballot paper at some stations.

Over 99% of the commission’s 23,148 voting stations opened on time at 7am and reported a strong turnout of voters from early in the morning.

More than 3.5 million voters had already voted by 12:30. The commission attributed this to the use of their new voter management devices, which replaced their old zip-zip machines.

"In general, voting is progressing well across the country. The logistical arrangements, as well as the voter management devices, are holding well, on the whole," Mashinini said.

Mashinini said in Modimolle in Limpopo, an accredited observer was asked to leave a voting station for wearing a political party t-shirt.He said a process to withdraw the observer’s accreditation had started.

In Moretele in the North West, a member of a political party was arrested after he interrupted the voting process. In Taung, also in the North West, the IEC laid charges against a presiding officer after he opened a ballot box that had been sealed.

The IEC said 20 voting stations did not open on time in KwaZulu-Nata due to community protests. The voting stations were in Camperdown and Mdlothi, but were later opened with the help of police to allow voters to take part in the elections.

In the Eastern Cape, 19 voting stations did not open because of community protests.

In all incidents, the IEC said communities dug trenches to deny its officials and voters access to the voting stations. The commission working with municipalities was able to fill the trenches.

The IEC said it expected that the voting stations will be open later on Monday.

In Limpopo, hailstorm delayed the opening of voting stations in Giyani. There were also disruptions in power supply which affected voting in some parts of Limpopo and the Northern Cape.

IEC also insits that its new Voting Management Devices (VDMs) work perfectly and are not a cause for concern at this stage.

Responding to questions by the media on Monday during a briefing aimed at giving an update on the voting process so far, IEC Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said the 29 000 VDMs the commission had distributed so far to voting stations were "functioning well and holding up".

His comment comes despite several reports having been issued across the country relating to the devices not working optimally.

Furthermore, some community members have blamed delays in voting on the slowness or malfunctioning of the VMDs.

Mamabolo conceded that there were a few technical glitches.

"A total of 29 000 of them (VMDs) are connected to our network. We introduced them to fortify controls and improve efficiency,"said Mamabolo.

He further indicated that the IEC had procured up to 40 000 machines before the elections as a back-up.