Cries of sabotage and technical glitches mar SA’s elections

EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu voted in Soweto. Picture: Timothy Bernard Independent Newspapers.

EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu voted in Soweto. Picture: Timothy Bernard Independent Newspapers.

Published May 29, 2024


Complaints of sabotage and technical glitches have marred the 2024 national elections after South Africa’s top three political parties complained to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).

The parties lodged the complaint at one of the national parties’ liaison committee meetings last night, saying the challenges kept voters in line for hours as the closing time of the voting stations drew near.

More than 26 million eligible voters were expected to cast their votes at the national and provincial elections, which kicked off at 7am on Wednesday morning.

A total of 52 political parties took part in what were seen as South Africa’s most highly contested elections since democracy in 1994.

Speaking to The Star at the IEC’s Results Operations Centre in Midrand, ANC first deputy secretary-general Nomvula Mokonyane said the new rules and the collapsing of scanners at voting stations had caused problems.

“There have been issues that had to do with the glitches and the new rules that the IEC has attended to. The issues were about the voter management device that were dysfunctional,” said Mokonyane.

According to reports, voters in Soshanguve in Tshwane did not have water as they woke up to go out to vote, prompting Mokonyane to spit fire at the DA-led municipality.

“The Soshanguve situation is an act of desperation from the DA. They just decided to shut out water on a critical day like this… We don’t celebrate disruption of services,” she said.

Asked if she was still confident of a win, Mokonyane said: “We are confident we will never go to battle as an army to lose. We are going to win these elections. We are in coalition with the people of South Africa.”

She said she was still confident, despite polls results saying otherwise.

“Polls are polls that help us to repackage our approach to elections. They are not an absolute determination on how we will come out,” she said.

EFF secretary-general Marshall Dlamini said they would ask the IEC to consider extending the 9pm deadline.

“There are complaints that we are going to raise in the national parties’ liaison committee. Those voter management device machines have collapsed and there are long queues.

“There are people who have been standing for four hours. My president, the CIC, stood for four hours, especially when there are young people, but we are going to raise it to say that, looking at those queues, we are not going to finish by 9pm.

“So we are going to ask the IEC now that beyond 9pm we are going to ask that all those people in the queues be allowed to vote.

“We are not going to allow a situation where they say they have to vote tomorrow because that was not the plan. Nobody in the queues should be turned away,” he said.

In a statement, the party said it was concerned by the alleged failure of voters roll machines in some parts of the country, which led many voters to give up and go home or to their respective workplaces.

Meanwhile, in Braamfischerville, where EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu cast his vote after spending more than two hours in the queue, a resident, Thulani Mbolompo, told The Star that the lines were too long and that people were starting to feel uneasy.

The station had to apply a two-tier voting system which divided the voters according to their surnames.

“We have been here since the morning and the lines are very long. Some of the people are old and are now starting to feel tired,” he said.

The EFF said the long lines and the failure of the voters roll machines in some areas would threaten the free and fair elections that the IEC had been tasked to provide.

“The EFF calls on the IEC to urgently attend to this issue and have the system back online as soon as possible to avoid compromising this critical election,” it said.

The 2024 elections are taking place amid accusations of electoral interference, inefficiencies, and other allegations of threats and intimidation directed at presiding officers and other officials.

Snaking queues at some voting stations were reminiscent of 1994, while in other parts of the country, voters such as United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa were turned away and told to vote elsewhere as their names did not appear on the voters roll.

“Just voted. In 2021 I voted in the Umtata City Hall. Today, I was told to go vote in the Umtata General Hospital. Sadly, others who are supposed to vote in the City Hall are also not appearing on the voters roll. Let us hope the IEC will assist them soon,” Holomisa said.

Tensions between various political parties have also added to the atmosphere of suspicion during the elections.

During his visit to the Hitekani Primary School, where he and his wife, Tshepo Ramaphosa, cast their votes, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the issue of sabotage, saying he was concerned by reports of electoral interference and attacks on IEC officials.

“We are concerned about the incidents that have been reported where the IEC has raised its concerns, but also one incident where the police had to intervene by arresting those who were interfering with the work of the IEC,” he said.

“The work of the IEC is sacrosanct. It should have never been interfered with because when you interfere with the work of the IEC, you are really interfering with our democracy and you are trying to subvert the will of the people.

“So we are concerned and we are once again calling on all South Africans, that all of us must abide by the prescripts of the electoral law and our Constitution as well.”

IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo, when addressing questions from the media last night, said there would be no need to turn voters away because all voting stations would serve voters who had arrived at the voting station before 9pm.

He also said there was no plan of extending voting to another day.

He said that because of the technical glitches regarding the scanners, the IEC had advised presiding officers at voting stations to use the voters roll instead of using the device.

The Star

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