10 July, 2014

Dumped ballot papers: Are elections really free and fair?

Nompumelelo Kubheka

The Electoral Commission of South Africa’s (IEC) motto is “Ensuring free and fair elections”. One of their values is “Transparency”. So, are the dumped ballot papers found in Alexandra and Diepsloot in Johannesburg as well as Lynnwood in Pretoria part of the IEC’s values and Motto?

The dumped ballot boxes found on the 8th of May, post elections were apparently in the favour of the DA.  

The discoveries caused a flutter on social media sites. Comments such as “The beloved ANC is always a suspect” and “Dumped ballot papers? What happened to honesty? The DA is obviously a threat” were made by angry DA supporters.
The IEC’s chief electoral officer, Masotho Moepya said that the discovery did not equate to an irregularity. He said ballots were counted in front of party officials from all involved parties at the voting stations. The party representatives then signed ballot slips to confirm the number of votes counted for their party before the slip was taken to a local counting centre.
Although the ballots had been counted, was it fair for them to be dumped in public for every voter to see? Were the DA supporters not put in danger of possible violence outrages?
Moepya further said that the IEC does not encourage people to mislay ballots. The ballots could have been stolen from where they were stored or possibly fell from a truck that was delivering them.
DA leader, Helen Zille’s response to Moepya’s statement was that the mislaying of the ballot papers was certainly not conducive to public confidence in a free and fair election. She added that it was worrying that the IEC appeared not to be able to transport ballot papers properly and that ballot papers landed up on the street. They need to be stored should a recount be required.
A similar incident took place again in Alexandra where IFP supporters held hostage a group of ANC agents after ballot boxes from the Women for Peace voting station were apparently loaded into a strange car.
Whether the ballots were stolen or really mislaid we will never know. However, we know that it was a matter of irresponsibility. I personally hope that the iec does something to prevent such incidents from happening in future and that elections be really free and fair.

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