A gathering of representatives of smaller parties take to the stage to protest their claim that the elections were not free or fair, at the Independent Electoral Commission Results Center in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, May 9, 2019. South Africans voted Wednesday in a national election and preliminary results show that the ruling African National Congress party (ANC) has an early lead in the national elections but has seen its share of the vote drop significantly. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Pretoria – So-called smaller political parties on Thursday said they were willing to take the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to the Electoral Court over irregularities in Wednesday’s general election.

More than 10 political parties including the African Peoples’ Convention (APC), National Freedom Party, African Transformation Movement (ATM), Black First Land First, Land Party, and the Socialist Workers Revolutionary Party (SWRP) said that the elections were “not free and fair”.

As almost 60 percent of the vote had been counted by 7pm, it was clear that these parties would be lucky to even each get one seat in Parliament as some were struggling to get at least 20 000 votes. 

In an impromptu media briefing at the IEC national operations results centre, ATM leader Mzwanele Manyi said that the reason why the elections were not free and fair was because of all the reported irregularities, such as double voting, vanishing ink and lost ballots.

“We are saying that all these double votes that have come to pass, the credibility of these elections is at stake. This whole thing here is not what it is projected to be, free and fair elections,” Manyi said.

“Their processes have been flawed, there have been all kinds of issues that have been raised where sometimes presiding officers made all kinds of inconsistent decisions.”

Adil Nchabeleng, APC spokesperson said some voting stations were not opened until the end of the election while at some stations turned voters away, saying that they did not have the necessary forms. 

“There were key issues that have already been accepted by the IEC, they have noticed irregularities yet nothing has been done with regards to that. It was a peaceful election, but the processes, as well as the manner in which the IEC conducted the election, was not free nor fair,” Nchabeleng said.

“This was a deliberate move to undermine minority and smaller parties because some of the results are very questionable as population demographics do not support those results.”

Zanele Lwana, spokesperson for the BLF, said there was evidence of irregularities in the 2019 elections. 

“There is a clear political programme to lead to a government of national unity between political parties linked to the agenda of white monopoly capital. And these political parties are the ANC, DA and EFF,” Lwana said. 

“We are seeing here a ridicule of parties, aligned to an agenda of radical economic transformation. The results that we see on this board makes a total ridicule of all the work that we have done as so-called smaller parties.”

A representative of the Alliance for Transformation for All slammed the IEC for hiring teachers as electoral staff, saying they did not understand technology as she voted in Cape Town Ward 98 without her ID being scanned.

“Most people that work for the IEC are teachers and they are not technologically professional. They were supposed to start [voting] at seven o’clock but we started at 08h30 up until I said I’m going to call a journalist. That’s when they they let me vote without my ID being scanned,” she said. 

The smaller parties said they were in talks with the chief executive of the IEC, but said they would be approaching the Electoral Court if they were not satisfied with the responses they get.

Earlier on Thursday, the IEC said it would also conduct an audit of results and votes cast in a sample of voting stations to ascertain if double voting had occurred in the national elections. At least 20 people have already been arrested for trying to cast their ballots twice. 

IOL NEWS

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