PMB residents criticise lack of transparency in ward committee elections

2011-08-22 00:00

WARD committee elections held recently in most areas in Pietermaritzburg were marred by chaos as residents questioned the lack of transparency in the process. Police were deployed in their numbers to ensure there was no violence sparked by angry community members.

In Ward 17 in Imbali Unit 13 community members declined to vote, accusing their councillor of allowing the voting process to continue despite their calls to stop.

They alleged she had not given the community a chance to participate in the process.

Said Sthembiso Khoza, one of the unhappy residents, “It is our understanding that this election is a democratic process aimed at promoting public participation, transparency, accountability and fairness in local government.”

But, he added, the process they observed in their ward led them to believe that all these values were undermined by the process that was followed in nominating candidates for the ward committee.

Khoza said they acknowledge that the elections were advertised in various media; however, the municipality did not fully engage the communities who have no access to newspapers.

In Ward 22, the voting process was stopped because fraudulent ballot papers were discovered. One of the ballot papers had a Ward 35 stamp on it and the other one had no stamp so the residents called on police to intervene.

Msunduzi Municipality speaker, Babu Baijoo said the ward elections are a legal process, like other elections, and the municipality had advertisee in several newspapers and on local radio.

“If residents are not happy and have objections regarding the ward committee elections they have a right to declare a dispute by writing and forwarding their complaints to my office within seven days,” said Baijoo.

He said the Department of Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs has established a dispute resolution committee, which was created to address any objections resulting from the ward committee elections.

“Thus far only interim results are being given and when the dispute resolution committee has gone through all the objections then the final results will be announced,” said Baijoo.

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