Ballot boxes found roadside in Limpopo caused a stir on
Monday afternoon. The Electoral Commission (IEC) says the innocuous finding has
not endangered the elections.
With South Africa’s sixth democratic election less than 24 hours away, eagle-eyed scrutiny is fixed on the IEC and its countrywide management systems. Nearly every year, reports of discarded ballots and boxes surface during this tumultuous time. This year is no different.
On Monday afternoon, images of ballot boxes, seemingly discarded on the side of the road, whipped social media into a frenzy. Allegations of electoral tampering and inadequate security measures dampened the start of Election Week and cast suspicion on the promise of a ‘free and fair’ ballot.
‘Integrity of the elections’ safeguarded
The IEC has, however, hit back at detractors, offering an explanation as to why and how the boxes ended up on the side of a rural road near Tzaneen. More importantly, the Commission has assured South Africans that the wayward ballot boxes have not jeopardised the validity of this year’s vote.
In a statement issued on Monday evening, summarising the first day of the Special Voting process, the IEC explained:
“A pack of three unused, unassembled ballot boxes was discovered on the side of a road in Tzaneen, Limpopo. The Electoral Commission has investigated the incident and found that it was lost off the back of a vehicle during transport to a voting station.”
Chief Electoral Officer, Sy Mamabolo, went on to add:
“Fortunately there is no risk to the elections as the boxes were unused and there are many safeguards to protect the integrity of the elections. However, such incidents are highly regrettable as they serve to undermine the faith of the public and stakeholders in the process.”
IEC official suspended over roadside ballot boxes
Mamabolo reiterated that the secure transportation of ballot
boxes remained a non-negotiable priority. The IEC official, charged with
transporting the boxes which ended up roadside in Tzaneen, has been suspended. Mamabolo
confirmed that an internal investigation was underway.