Commotion broke out at an IEC results centre in Nelson Mandela Bay on Thursday, when marked and exposed ballot papers were discovered in a tent behind the East Cape Traning Centre in Zwide.
Reporters discovered special votes, marked ballot papers and open boxes spread out in a tent in what looked like a complete mess.
The Independent Electoral Commission of SA’s (IEC’s) regional supervisor, Crosby Bacela, conceded with angry politicians that the ballots should have not been exposed.
Bacela said that the result process was not in any way affected by the incident.
“Any ballot that is here is a ballot that has been counted. What I can see is ballots that actually fell out [of boxes] and the people working on it left the ballots on the ground,” said Bacela.
He conceded that an exposed ballot paper was regarded a serious violation of the electoral code.
Bacela said that officials would now gather the exposed ballots and return them to the IEC’s warehouse.
Following the incident, the IEC took to social media and tweeted the African News Agency (ANA) and said that the incident was as a case of “officials not following procedure to returning empty ballot boxes to warehouses for disposal”.
“This case is being investigated, but it does not necessarily mean that the election has been compromised in any way,” the IEC tweeted.
ANC deputy provincial chairperson Sakhumzi Somyo said the the news of exposed ballots came as a shock, as the ballots were supposed to be kept in a place of safety.
“We have asked our team at Nelson Mandela Bay to find out what has happened and give us an explanation.It depends on what explanation we get and, if indeed it needs a follow-up we will do so,” said Somyo.
Democratic Alliance mayoral candidate for Nelson Mandela Bay Athol Trollip had a lot more to say and raised a number of questions as to why the tent site was not secured.
“Who found these ballot papers, why was the tent site not secured? The IEC should secure it. The IEC [is] just not doing its job properly in highly contested municipalities; they should do their job 100%. Why did someone not account for those ballot papers? Why [are] they so lax? Why do they not implement best practice?” Trollip questioned.
“The worst about it is I thought here we go again, same old movie, the ANC under pressure trying to find someone to blame,” he said.
“It’s the same old story, I’m sure those ballot papers will be accounted for; the auditing process is normally quite good, but the IEC needs to get its act together; it’s not the first incident and it won’t be the last. They get paid a lot of money, those commissioners, and they must do their job properly; they have not done their job properly.”
– African News Agency (ANA)