Furore over ward committee elections

2016-12-01 06:00

TONGAAT residents raised concerns about the election of ward committee members who were elected to work with councillors on 20 November.

Some residents claimed that when they arrived at the voting stations they were turned away by the officials.

Nkosingiphile Mdletshe (36), a resident from Gwala’s Farm in Tongaat, said municipal officials announced a day before the elections that residents would be transported to a voting station at Buffelsdale Stadium.

“The residents waited for the bus from early in the morning, but it did not come. We had to arrange alternate transport to take us from Gwala’s Farm to the voting venue. Other residents were left behind as a result and could not cast their vote. Other residents arrived at the voting station at 11am and were told the registration process was over. They were denied access. In some wards it was reported that elections did not commence at all,” said Mdletshe.

Another community member, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, told the Weekly he was not allowed on the bus that was transporting community members to the voting station at the stadium.

“ANC members on a bus told us that the bus was only arranged for ANC supporters, not the DA. They refused to take other community members. Ward 61 has 10 people who were elected and all are members of the ANC. This is unfair,” he said.

Former ward committee member from Gwala’s Farm Maxwell Ndunge (40), rubbished the allegations that there were members of the community who were denied access to the bus.

“Those are false allegations. To my knowledge, no one was denied entry to the bus because of his or her political affiliation. The elections were meant for the community irrespective of their political party. The elected members were elected by residents,” he said.

When asked about the 10 new members elected in Ward 61, he could not confirm if all were members of the ANC. “I wouldn’t know if all the elected are the members of the ANC.”

eThekwini Municipality Head of Communications Tozi Mthethwa said ward committee elections progressed successfully on 27 November with 35 wards completing the voting process peacefully.

“The municipality is not aware of anybody who was turned away at any of the voting stations. The voting proceedings were a continuation of the ward committee elections that began on 20 November in eThekwini’s 110 wards.”

Several residents complained to the Weekly about the venues listed in the newspaper. One resident said he went to two different voting stations - Canelands Library and Umdloti Clinic - and no election process was taking place there.

“The women who worked at the library didn’t even know elections were taking place at that venue,” said the resident.

The municipality confirmed that these issues are being investigated.

“Last week only 70 wards completed the election process with 40 being postponed to take place on 27 November. Voting in five wards was postponed and a date will be announced to residents in those communities in due course. The issues that led to the postponement are still being investigated. The number of wards that have successfully voted now sits at 105,” said Mthethwa.

Mthethwa said there was a heavy police presence at the 40 voting sites to ensure peaceful and fair elections.

“Officials from the municipality and the Independent Electoral Commission were also on the ground to assist voters and monitor proceedings. Officials worked around the clock to ensure that voting sites were in order with the setup of infrastructure, the delivery of voting equipment and water tankers on sites in areas experiencing shortages as well as a swift response to reported power outages. The co-ordination of the different departments ensured a smooth election process.”

Mthethwa added those elected will undergo a verification process to ensure they meet the requirements to be ward committee members.

“Once these verification processes have been completed, those elected will be formally announced as ward committee members to the communities they serve.

“Members are also required to attend workshops that will assist them to understand local government.”

IEC spokesperson Mawetu Mosery told Weekly: “The elections were done by the office of the speaker of eThekwini Municipality. The IEC only assisted with material required at the voting stations, such as ballot boxes. Prior to the elections we trained the municipal officials and showed them how to run elections.”

ANC provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli said: “We have not received any complaints regarding people who were turned away at the voting stations.

“However, we received complaints from other areas in the region that voting was interrupted.

“We therefore encouraged the ANC leadership to attend to those complaints immediately. Everybody has a right to vote and we strongly condemn the alleged incidents where people were not allowed to vote. The ANC will take this matter seriously and will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

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