Ward 21 residents in Mabopane say they will approach the courts if their dispute with the Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) pertaining to their demarcation affecting at least 750 residents is not resolved.
Two entrances to the IEC offices head offices in Centurion were barricaded by angry residents who demanded to have an audience with the commission’s chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo, pertaining to the removal of their names from a voters roll in Ward 21 to Ward 12.
Led by Julius “Jomo” Rapholo, who is also contesting the election as a Ward 21 independent candidate, he said they wouldn’t accept reasoning from the IEC that it was impossible for changes to be made on the voters roll at this stage.
“We want the IEC to make sure that all these residents vote where they stay, as is prescribed by the Electoral Act. If it’s impossible for them to do that we will seek constitutional intervention.
“We cannot sit back and watch the IEC telling us that this is impossible. We will go to the Constitutional Court because our constitutional rights are being contravened,” he said.
Rapholo said the residents’ presence at the IEC was a first step of seeking recourse and “if they cannot do justice to what we demand then it means we will be preparing an affidavit to go to court”.
According to him, the violation of the rights was enshrined in the Electoral Act 73 of 1998, Section 8, subsection 2, which stipulates that “every person must vote where he or she is ordinarily a resident”.
“There are 750 people in our area in Tshwane designated by the IEC to vote in an alternative ward without having given the IEC their correct details of where they stay,” he said.
He said should the dispute not be solved “the results of the election cannot be fair”.
He rubbished suggestions that the voters roll was affected by the ward demarcation process.
“The area was never affected by the demarcation; it has been consistent since the first municipal election after the demarcations were pronounced in 2000. We visited the IEC in August and we alerted it of this problem. During the recent voter registration weekend most people went for re-registration and the IEC system declined to change their details,” he said.
He cited that there was still a situation where a mother and the child in the same ward would vote in the different wards, “which shows that there is something wrong with the system the IEC is using”.
They said that should the commission fail to address their dispute they would file a court application, challenging the constitutionality of being forced to vote in a ward where they were not residents.
“When you say I must vote in Ward 12 as a resident of Ward 21, you are violating my constitutional right. The Electoral Act says I must vote where I stay.
“So why must I influence the decision of somebody where I am not staying? It is like taking people from KwaZulu-Natal to come and vote in our area. It means the IEC cannot pronounce that they can host the free election if such a discrepancy exists.”
At the time of publication, the IEC was yet to respond to a request for comment.