Election officials start the ballot counting process at a polling station during municipal elections. (Schalk van Zuydam, AP)
Port Elizabeth - Political parties in Nelson Mandela Bay are fuming after hundreds of ballot papers were discovered exposed in a tent at the back of the regional results centre.
The ballots, marked with African National Congress, Congress of the People and other party votes, were supposed to have been transported to warehouses but somehow ended up in the tent.
Cope's Siyasanga Sijadu said elections should be run in a free and fair manner.
"It should not be about wanting to be powerful for 22 years. This is utter nonsense. It is ridiculous. These are our votes here," she said.
Going up and down the tent and going through the ballots, Sijadu said it was an infringement of their right to fair elections.
IEC's Crosby Bacela said it was a rollback tent, and while the ballots should not have been exposed, parties had been made aware of the tent's existence.
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"Every ballot that is here has been counted. This is our plan."
He said the party liaison committee (PLC) members were aware of the rollback tent.
He conceded that it was not procedure for the ballots to be exposed.
The ANC's Nceba Faku said it was concerning that the ballots had been found exposed.
They would confirm with their PLC members whether they had been aware of the tent or not and then party leaders would decide how to proceed.
The Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance, however, dismissed the discovery as an ANC stunt. The ANC was currently trailing behind in the results.
ANC 'under pressure'
DA mayoral candidate Athol Trollip said the ANC was trying to find someone to blame.
"They are under pressure now. It's the same old, same old story."
He said the IEC auditing process was normally quite good, but also called on the institution to bring its house into order.
"It's not the first incident today, it won't be the last. They were paid a lot of money those commissioners, they must do better."
He said it was "quiet coincidental that somebody found the boxes to cast aspersions".
"But we will find out. It's very easy to account for ballot papers."
He said the numbers were out there already.
Counting in Nelson Mandela Bay was sitting at 91%, with only 44 results slips left to be captured in the area.
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