Chaos at Sweetwaters poll

2012-02-20 00:00

ANGRY Sweetwaters residents yesterday blocked the entrance to a polling station to halt voting during chaotic traditional council elections.

The protesters, from the Nadi area of Sweetwaters in Vulindlela, said their candidates’ names had not appeared on the ballot papers.

Instead, they had the names of candidates from the neighbouring Mpumuza area under inkosi Nsikayezwe Zondi.

Nadi area falls under inkosi Sondelani Zondi.

Residents who spoke to The Witness outside the Gospel Church polling station in Sweetwaters said that although their names appeared on the voters’ roll, their candidates’ names were not on the ballot papers.

“After discovering this scandal, we decided to camp outside the voting station in order to persuade voters not to vote because we cannot vote for people who belong to another inkosi to be in charge of development in our area.

The Independent Electoral Commission and the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) “must sort out this mess”, said a resident, Mduduzi Sithole.

Three candidates from Nadi area, Themba Zondi, Gcineni Magubane and Busisiwe Mbambo, whose names were not on the ballot paper, were among the crowd that was urging voters not to cast their ballots.

As a result, only three out of 174 registered voters at the Gospel Church voting station had managed to vote by 2 pm yesterday.

Cogta official Ntokozo Chonco could not say what had gone wrong on the Nadi ballot papers, but said MEC Nomusa Dube was likely to recommend by-elections at all polling stations that had experienced serious problems.

At a polling station at nearby ­Mbubu Primary School only 15 out of 116 registered voters had voted by the afternoon.

It is the first time that traditional councils have held elections.

Last week the Inkatha Freedom Party president, in his capacity as an inkosi of the Buthelezi clan in Mahlabathini, lodged an unsuccessful application in the high court in Pietermaritzburg to have the elections halted.

Cogta spokesperson Vernon ­Mchunu said an estimated 40% of the 500 000 registered voters had turned up by midday to elect their candidates for the traditional councils.

Although there were some hiccups in a few voting districts in the province, MEC Dube said, she was overwhelmed by the response shown by voters given that the election was a relatively a new one.

“By-elections will be staged in about the next three weeks, so that we can address the hurdles that may have been identified elsewhere.”

The MEC added: “We wish to thank our people for having responded positively to our call on them to participate in the democratisation of our traditional councils and the institution of traditional leadership.

“We are the first province in the country to run this brand of election, and our counterparts will surely learn a thing or two as they conduct their own in the near future, because this process is ultimately a national campaign in keeping with our Constitution.”

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