ATM drags IEC to Electoral Court over vote-rigging allegations

The African Transformation Movement (ATM), a faith-based political party, has petitioned the Electoral Court in Bloemfontein to declare that the outcomes of the May 29 national and provincial elections were not free and fair, despite the Electoral Commission’s (IEC) declaration to the contrary. The party was formed with the backing of the South African Council of Messianic Churches in Christ, which together are supported by millions of congregants.
Complaints based on six grounds 
In his founding affidavit dated Thursday, ATM president Vuyo Zungula said the party had been “a victim of miscalculations, voter rigging, and voter corruption”. He cited at least six grounds, including inaccuracy and inconsistency in the voters’ roll. Also discrepancies affecting ballot boxes and issues relating to vote counting. The section 24A law restricting voters to voting districts and the malfunctioning of the voting management devices. And the misconduct of IEC commissioners.
 
Zungula also brought the court’s attention to allegations of misconduct against the IEC commissioners. This is particularly referred to IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya.
 
He claimed the commissioners were allegedly involved in planned ATM sabotage during the 2019 elections. Zungula cited an affidavit by former ANC parliamentary researcher Winston Erasmus. The affidavit was filed with the Secretary of the Electoral Court.
 
“In that affidavit, Winston requests the Electoral Court to consider an infringement of the Electoral Code. [This infringement] by, amongst others, Mr Mosotho Moepya, the Commissioner of the Commission. As he then was, and now the Chairperson of the Commission,” he said.
IEC not impartial at all
 
He said the revelations depicted how the IEC became a major political player. “Its impartiality is a non-starter; it does not exist at all. It is a matter of fact that a tainted commission is impossible to administer free and fair elections, as it is constitutionally obliged to do so.”
 
Zungula said the accuracy and efficiency of the voters roll gave effect to the voters’ right to vote. Without it, voting is impossible. 
“It was surprising and shocking for ATM to learn that most of its voters could not vote. This in a manner that deprived them of their right to vote. The reason was their non-appearance on the voters’ roll despite being registered,” he said.
 
“Some were not on the voters’ roll for the voting districts they registered at. But were informed their names appear in the voters’ roll elsewhere in another voting district. This disappointed the individual voters, most of whom could not vote. Very few managed to be transported to the voting districts where it is alleged their names appeared.”
 
He said this was because these problems persisted. This despite the voters having checked and confirmed their address on the voters’ roll for the intended voting district.
 
Zungula said there had been complaints or disputes about sealed ballot boxes being abandoned elsewhere. This contributed to voter fraud, vote rigging, and double voting.
 
“This has led to one or some political parties gaining an unfair advantage over the prejudice of the others. In this manner, the IEC, conclusively, has been biased in its Constitutional duty to administer the elections.”
Vote counting was a sham
He said that during vote counting, “the counting officers and the counters would count votes manually. This in the presence of every part agent of each political party and the authorised personnel”.
 
“This manual counting process will take more than 72 hours to be completed. It is affected by possible tiredness of counters, fatigue, voter counting fraud, and voter rigging. Hence, it has been subject to many complaints and disputes on or during counting,” he said.
 
“This then sometimes delays the entire vote counting process. It even leads to the process being objected and started afresh, de novo. This will then cause the delay in the announcement of results.”
He noted that the Electoral Court had the power to direct the rerun of elections. This includes the power to ensure the right to vote …freely, without prejudice by all citizens.
Wants court to force a re-run of elections
“Confidence in the commission has to be restored as a Chapter 9 institution. This will assist in strengthening democracy and the fundamental values of the Constitution. Hence, in the re-run, this court is asked to direct how they should be [conducted]. This in order to avoid further damage to the credibility of the commission,” he said.
 
He said the court also had the power to direct how the process may start afresh. It may also give guidance on how the IEC may be composed. This will restore its credibility and  public confidence in its administration of free and fair elections.
“The IEC was obliged to act when there was a large-scale of unlawful conduct or activities reported. Its manner in how it acted on the objectives has tainted its credibility to administer free and fair elections.”
 

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