ANC's alleged role in shutdown protests must be resolved before elections - Maimane

The DA has approached the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to investigate and resolve the matter surrounding the ANC's alleged role in the recent shutdown protests, stating that elections cannot be held in a hostile climate.

On Wednesday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the IEC had given an undertaking it would investigate if the ANC had played a role in the shutdown protests, which started in Alexandra and spread to other communities in Gauteng, just a month away from the general elections.  

Speaking outside of the IEC head offices in Centurion, Maimane said he wanted the issues around the Alex shutdown to be resolved before the country votes.

Country held to ransom

"If it's not resolved before May 8, how do we proceed with an election? How do we hold an election in a hostile climate, where there are shutdowns across the country?" Maimane asked.

"As all South Africans go and cast their votes on May 8, we need to ensure that the entire climate upon which elections take place is free, is fair, and allows voters to exercise what is their constitutional and democratic right.

READ: Tshwane shutdown causes chaos in Pretoria

"What we don't want is a situation upon which our country is held to ransom, an unstable environment where voters cannot exercise their choice," Maimane added.

The DA leader reiterated that they had received credible information that proved the ANC was "fully" behind the shutdowns and that the ruling party was sponsoring the protests.

"We have prepared WhatsApp groups, we have voice mails and, therefore, ultimately I came to raise this concern directly with the IEC."

Rumours of another shutdown planned

Maimane added that there was also a rumour doing the rounds that there will be a "Gauteng Shutdown" on May 6, just two days before the main round of voting takes place nationally.

"The only reason they [ANC] are putting [sic] these shutdowns is because they realise their support is declining, therefore they have to intimidate people."

READ: DA, ANC in blame-game as protest set to spread to Sandton

"Protests are legitimate, but we have to ensure accountability of parties."

Maimane said the IEC had given an assurance that there was adequate security processes in place, in case there were further shutdowns. 

He added that the IEC was also looking at his complaints surrounding the allegations of Bosasa funding the ruling party, and the VBS bank scandal.

Criminal complaint

Earlier in April, the DA's Gauteng premier candidate, Solly Msimanga, laid a complaint at the Alexandra police station against the ANC for orchestrating the protests.

The ANC has rubbished the DA's allegations, calling them a cheap political stunt.

"Realising that the DA's campaign is floundering in Gauteng since the party deployed another failed former mayor of Tshwane to be its premier candidate, the DA is now desperate to find relevance," said ANC deputy provincial chairperson Panyaza Lesufi in a statement.

The party said the DA should not hide behind the ANC and use it as an excuse for its dismal failure to respond to the plight of the those living in Alexandra since taking over the City of Johannesburg.

In response to the meeting, the IEC issued a statement on Wednesday evening saying it had carefully listened to the issues raised by the DA leaders and had sought to clarify concerns where they had been raised.

"Where issues of disagreement on matters of law arose, as was the case in one of the issues raised by the DA (namely the Democratic Alliance vs the Electoral Commission, the Good Party and the African National Congress) the Commission welcomes the constructive approach to seek clarity from the courts," spokesperson Kate Bapela said.

She however, said it was important for the commission to respond directly to issues raised by "its stakeholders" directly with them and not through the media.

"While it understands the significant public interest in such matters, the Commission appeals to all stakeholders including political parties and the media to respect the legal process and to await the judgment of the courts in these matters.

"The Commission denies any suggestion it has acted with prejudice or partiality in dealing with any complaints."

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