According to observations made by members of ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, the 2016 Municipal Elections were not short of mishaps, despite systems in place to ensure a smooth running of the process. As part of its nationwide campaign to guide young people in making local government work, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers encouraged some of its members to become observers at this year’s elections.
ACTIVATE! Change Drivers is a network of more than 2000 young change makers or “Activators” across South Africa who are finding innovative ways to transform their communities and the country as a whole. The Network connects these young change makers and equips them with necessary skills and resources to thrive in their respective social development initiatives.
Over 80 Activators observed the elections at different voting stations all over the country. As observers, their role was to keep an eye on voting procedures to ensure that they are transparent, free and fair. The Activators reported a number of incidents that tampered with the election process:
A voting station in Cosmo City (Ward 100), Gauteng was still not open by 07h45.
Another one in Auckland Park (Ward 58) also in Gauteng closed by 16h00 and started counting. Voting stations were supposed to close doors at 19h00.
By 07h38 there were still no ballot papers at a voting station in Zondi 2 (Ward 45), Soweto, Gauteng.
Miscommunication from IEC
Some observers in Free State did not receive their bibs and accreditation from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) at the briefings even though emails stated that they would. As a result some did not participate.
Observer briefing dates kept changing at the last minute and IEC officials failed to pitch at a scheduled briefing session in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Even some IEC representatives were misinformed. A presiding officer in Mankweng (Ward 31), Limpopo was not sure of the correct voting procedures and kept asking the observer for assistance.
Due to misunderstandings some voters voted for more than one political parties and ward councilors in Kagiso EXT 12 (Ward 13), Gauteng.
Violence and safety
An observer in Mankweng (Ward 30), Limpopo was told to leave the voting station before the counting began and threatened with violence. A physical fight occurred at the same station and there was only one police officer available to intervene.
In Ntuzuma (Ward 43), KwaZulu-Natal, a political party representative handed ballot papers to voters before they got to the voting booths, which led to a violent fight.
Disruptions during the counting process
In Free State, an observer had to keep recounting the votes until it was 03h00 in the morning because representatives of a certain political party kept on disrupting the process.
A similar incident occurred in Mpumalanga because representatives of political parties disregarded the rules of the IEC.
Issued by ACTIVATE! Change Drivers. For more information please visit www.activateleadership.co.za
For media related queries, please contact: Nelisa Ngqulana
Communications Manager: ACTIVATE! Change Drivers
Cell: 073 817 8017