Malamulele residents vote with their feet

2013-11-10 06:01

The disgruntled community of Malamulele in Limpopo seems set on using their votes in their battle to secure their own municipality.

Voter registration was almost nonexistent in Malamulele amid intimidation of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) staff and prospective voters. In many cases, IEC staff were locked outside schools arranged for use as registration stations.

Limpopo provincial electoral officer Nkaru Mateta said only 23% of the 109 IEC voter registration stations across Malamulele were operational yesterday.

“Our staff members were intimidated, as well as community members who were coming to the registration points. This has contributed to a very low turnout at stations that were operational,” Mateta said.

Malamulele Demarcation Task Team member Noel Manganyi said the community had decided in a recent meeting to snub registration for next year’s national elections.

“They don’t see any need of participating in democratic processes [of which they are not part]. If you are in a democratic state and you don’t enjoy fruits of that democracy, why bother being part of any of its processes,” Manganyi said.

Malamulele residents have embarked on a battle to secure their own municipality, independent from Thulamela, which is based in Thohoyandou. They have cited service delivery as their reason, but it has also emerged that long-standing issues of tribalism between Venda- and Shangaan-speaking communities in the area played a part.

Thousands of residents have since early September taken to the streets on several occasions in violent protests, which have left a trail of millions of rands in damages.

Government vehicles and buildings, businesses as well as other privately owned properties were damaged in the protests.

The Municipal Demarcation Board has decided not to entertain an application by Malamulele to have its own municipality. The board was not convinced that the area needs its own municipality.

The matter was escalated to Luthuli House, ANC headquarters, but was yet to be formally discussed by the NEC.

Meanwhile, while hoping for the ANC to intervene, the community had decided not to participate in any election processes.

The IEC reported that they were forced to work outside schools meant to house voter-registration stations.

Those with keys to the schools were nowhere to be found when IEC staff arrived. On Friday, IEC staff members were intimidated, and boards and other branded material were taken from them as they prepared a station.

Limpopo police spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said police were monitoring the situation in Malamulele.

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