by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – ALLEGATIONS of vote rigging, civil unrest and the detention of a journalist have marred South Africa’s watershed local government elections.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) reported the arrest of a presiding officer for allegedly stuffing marked ballots into a ballot box at a voting station in eThekwini Metro in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
“The matter is now in the hands of the South African Police,” Say Mamabolo, the Chief Electoral Officer, said on Monday.
He was speaking at the National Results Operation Centre (ROC) in the capital, Pretoria.
The IEC announced that 3,5 million people had voted by Monday afternoon.
The 14 percent turnout indicated voter apathy.
IEC also confirmed protests in the Eastern Cape and KZN had resulted in the failure by some stations to open.
The vast majority of the country’s 23 148 voting stations opened on time at 07h00 and IEC said voting was “flowing smoothly.”
Voting was expected to continue throughout the day until 21h00 on Monday night when voting stations close.
Television journalist, Ziniko Mhlaba, was arrested live on air at station in the restive Soweto, where President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier cast his vote amid booing by some opposition supporters.
“Our democracy is spreading and becoming more entrenched. Many ordinary people are very excited about their participation in this whole process,” Ramaphosa, who leads the African National Congress (ANC), said in Chiawelo.
Shenilla Mohamed, the Executive Director of Amnesty International, called on the electoral commission to investigate the arrest of the journalist in Orlando East.
Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, police spokesperson, said police were “forced to remove” the journalist and a photographer after they allegedly “interfered with the work of the presiding officer at that station.”
“This matter has since been escalated to the Provincial Commissioner of Gauteng who ordered both the release of the journalist and an investigation into this matter,” Naidoo stated.
The 2021 local government elections kicked off on Saturday when the voters who registered for special votes began casting their ballots.
– CAJ News