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Special voting off to a sour start in Mpumalanga

Special voting began on Monday May 27 and continued on Tuesday May 28.

The first day of the casting of special votes in this year’s national and provincial elections got off to a rocky start in Mpumalanga on Monday May 27 with the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s (IEC) staff members allegedly receiving death threats and being intimidated in Hendrina.

The Mpumalanga police have confirmed that a case of intimidation was opened at the Hendrina Police Station on Tuesday morning, May 28, against agents of two political parties.

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This incident prompted the provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Manamela, and the premier, Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane, to visit the affected voting station in KwaZamokuhle, Hendrina within the Steve Tshwete Municipality.

Mtshweni-Tsipane implored the police to investigate the incident in an attempt to maintain peaceful elections in the area.
She said the conditions at all voting stations around Mpumalanga and elsewhere in the country should be conducive for the citizens to exercise their constitutional right of electing their preferred candidates.

She said any individual who intimidates voting officers is a threat to free and fair elections and must be arrested.

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Manamela expressed her commitment to investigate the incident in Hendrina to ensure peaceful elections until the last ballot is cast on Wednesday May 29.
The acting MEC for community safety, security and liaison of Mpumalanga, Busisiwe Shiba, has also registered her disappointment at a few incidents of intimidation directed at some IEC staff and other political parties by some individuals amid ongoing special votes in the province.
She said such behaviour must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

“The security cluster has identified hotspots as part of ensuring that all threats are accordingly eliminated to enable all voters to freely participate in these elections. The cluster will decisively deal with any person who threatens other people or officials working at various voting districts across the province.
“We are a democratic state where everybody’s right to freely vote should be respected regardless of their political convictions. We therefore wish to reassure the citizens that the security cluster is on high alert and plans are in place to ensure free and fair elections that will not be marred by violence and intimidation,” Shiba said.

The security agencies are currently deployed at all voting districts in the province.

South Africans are electing the leadership of the seventh administration out of the 70 political parties and 11 independent candidates that were published by the IEC as final contestants in these elections.

In total, there are over 14 903 candidates vying for 887 seats in the National and Provincial Legislatures. There are 27.79 million registered voters.

 
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