Chaotic campaigning

2019-01-28 16:53
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu interacts with Mpumuza residents during the ANC’s door-to-door campaign meant to encourage residents to register to vote.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu interacts with Mpumuza residents during the ANC’s door-to-door campaign meant to encourage residents to register to vote. (Sabelo Nsele)

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Bad weather, ANC faction fighting and community protests disrupted the voter registration drive in Pietermaritzburg and elsewhere on Sunday.

All hell broke loose at Edendale voting stations as ANC factions came to blows over who should represent the ANC as party agents during the voter registration drive.

Volunteers belonging to a faction aligned to President Cyril Ramaphosa were assaulted by disgruntled party members, who are aligned to the faction that supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s unsuccessful presidential bid. The assaults took place at voting stations around Machibisa, including Mthethomusha High School and Poyinandi.

ANC insiders said on Friday many party agents aligned to the Ramaphosa camp had received threatening SMSes telling them not to go to voting stations. “They managed to reach a compromise in many branches where they agreed that one faction should get one person each as a party agent in the voting stations. In Machibisa it was bad. Even the food bought for the ANC volunteers was destroyed by the disgruntled members,” said an insider.

ANC regional task team convener Thulani Xulu blamed a “misunderstanding” for Saturday’s incident.

“It was a minor misunderstanding but we have managed to resolve it. We had a meeting with all the affected parties and comrades apologised to each other and shook hands. As I am speaking now, we are all working together,” he said.

Xulu said they had reported to the police the matter of threatening SMSes sent to party agents.

Community protests also disrupted voter registration.

Angry residents in Ntembeni barricaded roads leading to voting stations, demanding a tarred road.

There were also protests in Ulundi and Ndwedwe, which led to voting stations not opening on time on Saturday, Independent Electoral spokesperson Kate Bapela said on Sunday.

“Approximately 140 voting stations around the country did not open on time due to community protests,” she said.

Bad weather and flooding led to some voting stations in the coastal areas not opening on time. Strong winds also affected operations at voting stations located in tents.

Meanwhile, political parties sent their top brass to encourage voters to register. ANC national executive committee members Jackson Mthembu, Bathabile Dlamini and Pule Mabe campaigned in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas over the weekend.

Mthembu said: “Where we have done door-to-door campaigns, people are telling us that they have already registered to vote. There is a lot of activity and people are in high spirits.”

He said the factions in the region had been able to put their differences aside and work together. “There are still those isolated areas where we still have challenges but we are monitoring those areas,” he said.

ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini campaigned at tertiary institutions, including the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Durban University of Technology Pietermaritzburg­ campuses. “In SA, young people are the majority and they are going to determine who runs the country. It’s not that they do not want to vote, it’s just that they think they are not ready,” she said.

DA KZN premier candidate Zwakele Mncwango and deputy provincial leader Mergan Chetty campaigned in Northdale on Sunday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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