By-elections in Mpumalanga have been marred by allegations of irregularities after an independent candidate lodged a complaint with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Khomotso Nonyane, who contested Ward 6 in Simile township near Sabie on Wednesday said in her complaint to the IEC that the Electoral Act had been violated and the outcome of the elections should be nullified. This ward was contested by two independent candidates and the ANC. The position of a councillor was left vacant three months ago when former ANC chief whip in Thaba Chweu, Paul Mogotsenyana, resigned after complaining about too much corruption in the municipality and joined the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The ward was won by ANC candidate Juba Mkhize. Mogotsenyana, who was Nonyane’s manager, said that the local IEC office refused to consider the complaint and said they should send it to IEC chief executive officer Mosotho Moepya. “We were never there when counting took place because we understood that we had lodged a complaint, which had to be investigated first before the counting,” Mogotsenyana said. In the letter to the IEC, Nonyane complains that: » The ANC canvassed on the day of voting and distributed its T-shirts, while it should have stopped the previous day; » Most of the IEC staff were ANC members; » Envelopes of special votes were opened before counting started, despite an agreement that these envelopes would be opened when counting started; » At one voting station, a scanner permitted 496 votes but during counting, it was found that 497 ballot papers were used; and » At another voting station, a voter asked for another ballot paper to vote again as he had voted for the wrong candidate. IEC national spokesperson Kate Bapela promised via a text message to respond to an inquiry but she did not by the time of publication. Her phone rang unanswered and she did not return voice messages. Another independent candidate, Sunnet Mokoena, echoed Nonyane’s concerns. “I also filled in the objection form. It means that form can’t stop counting votes. This means there’s no democracy and the IEC is the ANC,” Mokoena said. At Ward 21 in KaNyamazane near Nelspruit, the by-elections were almost interrupted when ANC members blockaded roads in Pienaar to protest that the ANC Ehlanzeni region had imposed a councillor they did not want. Police intervened and the situation returned to normal.