Free State election officials fired

2011-05-18 18:23

Bloemfontein - Two voting station presiding officers in the Free State were fired on Wednesday after one borrowed ballot papers from his "friend" at a neighbouring voting station, said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Free State IEC head Chris Mepha said the presiding officer of a voting station in the Dihlabeng municipality (Bethlehem) ran out of ballot papers and ran across the road to borrow ballot papers from his "friend" next door.

"We do not do that. We do not train them that," Mepha said in Bloemfontein.

He said 97 "spoilt" ballot papers were retrieved from the voting station after the incident was discovered. "Both [IEC personnel] are gone now."

In Mangaung (Bloemfontein) and Matjhabeng (Welkom) there was a "heavy" presence of voters.

Mepha said those inside the voting station borders at 19:00 tonight would be allowed to finish voting.

The Free State IEC said that by 15:30 an estimated 177 593 voters, out of more that 1.3 million, had made their cross in the elections.

Asked about an expected low voter turnout, Mepha said it was a trend in South Africa that local government elections attracted a lower voter turnout.

"The trend is 45% to 48% normally; unfortunately, people in South Africa are not forced to vote."

In Phase 7 Tuckshop, near Bloemfontein, where a voting station tent was burnt down overnight the voter turnout was low because of intimidation, Mepha said.

Glass in hand

At Bergman Square near Grassland a long queue of voters along the street were standing in the afternoon sun waiting their turn to enter.

At the tented voting station voting was running smoothly while pensioners on chairs at the entrance waited their turn on a taxi to be taken back home.

Across the street in an RDP house loud music was coming from inside.

Many residents at the voting station, including the house owner in his yard, were dancing to the beat. Glass in hand he was not interested in talking.

His neighbour, Benjamin Lenjanile, 42, was friendlier and practising his golf swings with a 3-iron and two golf balls.

"No, I did not vote across the street because they told me I’m registered in another ward," he said.

The tent across the street was busy since early, he said, while aiming a drive at a cooldrink can buried in the driveway across the small lawn.

At the voting station's gate five boys with "draadkarre" (children's vehicles built out of wire) pulled up and "parked" their vehicles.

Gift Mpasi, 13, with his "VW" with tyres made from old tennis balls, opens a shoe box at the back and takes out a small plastic food container.

His mother Lidia Mosilo was an IEC official in the tent and he had brought her something to eat.

Two houses further down the street, Mimie Ntsoaki, and a friend were sitting on chairs borrowed from the house behind them. "Ons is moeg gestaan (We are tired of standing)."

She indicates her place in the long line of voters still waiting for a turn across the street.

"We make turns in coming to rest here," she said, adding that she "must vote" before the end of day.

The Bergman Square voting station was expected to be one of many in the Mangaung area to stay open late to accommodate all the voters.

  • Grayman - 2011-05-18 18:31

    How can the IEC botch the number of ballot papers? It is a very simple operation. You know the number of voters you have registered at your station. You hand out ONE to each voter. At the end of the day you should have either 100% turnout or the proportionate number of ballot papers left over - which should be counted and tallied up against the number of voters that registered. Simple! Running out of ballot papers smacks of vote rigging!

      Oukoos - 2011-05-18 18:39

      Very easy - it is Africa!!!!!!!!!

      Vlooi - 2011-05-18 19:12

      @HueyPNewton - I think the same as Grayman on this. So please inform the two of us about the voting system since we clearly know nothing about it.

      Dundermoose - 2011-05-18 19:48

      I think they know how many registered, and then they provide the right amount of votes given that x% of the electorate voted in that area last time around (plus a safety factor). The thing is that maths probably isn't their strong point.

      Grayman - 2011-05-18 20:02

      @Huey - pray do tell kind sir. Clearly I am ill informed and would be delighted to be versed in the intricacies of the IEC ballot system. I am sure one or two other readers would benefit from your expertise as well.

      Fed-Up - 2011-05-18 21:35

      Eish - because the boss he never told me that!

      BOY30 - 2011-05-19 15:48

      @Grayman You are partly right. They should also include xtra ballot papers because if you spoil your ballot paper you can request the other one from the official. You need to do so before you put it in the box. once in a box then you cant get another one. - 2011-05-19 16:18

      Well i voted in the western cape, and one of the IEC people tried giving the voter in front of me a ballot paper that was torn half way through. that person refused to take it and so they tried handing it out to me and the person behind me. We all knew not to take it, the IEC people should have known not to try and hand it out...

  • estee.mente - 2011-05-18 18:37

    they are cheating..

  • j4truth - 2011-05-18 18:39

    Absolutely anything is possible in Africa, where the CONSCIENCE is something they know nothing about, never mind be able to spell it!!!!!!!!

  • marguerite - 2011-05-18 18:47

    "spoilt ballot papers"? Does that mean people already voted on those and they were thrown out?

      tammi2day - 2011-05-18 19:24

      The article implies that the ballot papers which were 'borrowed' from across the street were deemed to be spoilt ballots. My question is how do they know what papers these were? If they are marked with the polling station number this would be fine, but who was present when the box was opened? This is NOT FINE as these boxes are supposed to be sealed and only opened in the presence of witnesses. If the box was opened (must have been to remove the ballots), then potential vote rigging could have happened. Not a good sign, certainly this is something that must be investigated. Also, if 705 million papers were distributed for 29 million voters, how is it possible to run out of ballot papers?

      marguerite - 2011-05-18 19:32

      tammi2day I totally agree. This is garbage!!What do we do?

  • Lefty - 2011-05-18 19:00

    Get the UN to oversee the Elections in this corrupt country. Things might just turn out different.

  • BlendedFrog - 2011-05-18 19:11

    Apologies to all those dedicated IEC officials out there, but how can I be sure that the IEC management is truly independent and that it will, no matter what, truly report on the actual numbers of votes as cast by the voters? Who is monitoring the IEC?

      Grayman - 2011-05-18 20:06

      In the elections I have helped out in we made sure that there were party representatives from at least three of the parties involved. That way there is less chance of collution. At least that is how it is SUPPOSED to work.

      BOY30 - 2011-05-19 15:54

      At all polling stations there are Political party observers. their duty is to ensure that everything goes accordingly.

      Msotjovitjo - 2011-05-19 16:15

      Party agents....

  • tammi2day - 2011-05-18 19:27

    "In Phase 7 Tuckshop, near Bloemfontein, where a voting station tent was burnt down overnight the voter turnout was low because of intimidation, Mepha said." IEC Official should be able to NAME AND SHAME those who are perpetrating voter intimidation. It is obvious in most cases who is intimidating and who is being intimidated, so why not just put it out there. It may make the perpetrators think twice about trying it again. Is this not a crime in any event, so are these people being arrested?

      Watookal - 2011-05-19 15:58

      JZ intimitated the people by telling them that their ancestors will be angry if they don't vote for the anc - if he can then everyone can!

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