20 September 2008
(This file contains several reports from the election day)
(This file contains several reports from the election day)
RAIN COMES DOWN AS NATION VOTES
By Staff Reporters
The secondary elections were for a large part smoothly conducted yesterday, showing a marked improvement from the chaos of the primary elections.
At some areas, voting was over after three hours because the polling were scattered at each Inkhundla.
At most polling stations, there were no reports of disturbances. But a fight nearly broke out at Lobamba Lomdzala when supporters of Marwick Khumalo clashed with those of Lynette Charles. DJ Nice, who lost a court case against Marwick, was said to have thrown his weight behind Lynette Charles and was her agent.
At Zombodze Emuva, an impi of supporters of defeated Titus Thwala tried to stop the elections – but heavy army and police presence stopped them dead on their tracks.
At Dvokolwako, a snake was killed after it proceeded to vote against the wishes of the majority.
On the eve of Cabinet being dissolved and Bheki Dlamini taking over government operations – yesterday’s vote was a mixed bag of expectations, even from those who do not support the Tinkhundla system.
Even former Prime Minister Themba Dlamini had nothing but praise for the EBC for a job well done.
This morning at 8 o’clock counting will start at the various tinkhundla centres and for some it will be the beginning of their five-year parliament term whilst others are still going to contest the results in our courts.
Cobra snake ‘votes’ at Dvokolwako
By Calsile Masilela
A snake went to the polls yesterday. Although it tried hard to cast its vote at Dvokolwako polling station, the other voters cornered and killed it before it could vote.
The drama first unfolded on Thursday afternoon when Presiding Officer, Sotja Dlaminiu was at Dvokolwako High School to prepare for yesterday’s election. He had just parked his van when the snake came running, fleeing attackers who were chasing it. It got under a back wheel of Dlamini’s car and disappeared. The people who were chasing the one-metre cobra snake alerted Dlamini that there was a voter hiding in his car.
Efforts to make it get out of the car failed – and a worried Dlamini then drove to Manzini Fire Station plead with firemen to remind the snake that voting starts Friday (yesterday), not Thursday afternoon. The firemen sprayed the car with some substance and when the snake did not come out, they told Dlamini not to stress – saying the snake probably fell on the wayside from Dvokolwako to Manzini. “I left the fire station for Mbabane and filled up petrol for today’s journey to Dvokolwako,” Dlamini told our reporter. But he took the car and parked it at his workplace, because he had an uneasy feeling about parking at home.
Yesterday morning, he went to his workplace, took the car and drove to Dvokolwako. After he had parked the car at Dvokolwako to supervise the vote, the snake slithered out of the car and was killed by a Magagula voter. The Dvokolwako people said they are still wondering how the snake stayed for 17 hours in Dlamini and even survived the Manzini firemen’s muti.
No hiccups in Southern Hhohho
By Fanyana Mabuza
The secondary elections in the Southern Hhohho region proceeded well and recorded little or no drama at all.
In polling stations from Lobamba Lomdzala right up to Sigangeni no glitches were witnessed and the voters behaved so well that by the afternoon, most stations were seeing a trickle of voters, as most people had voted in the morning.
Polling officers stated that they opened from as early as 6pm, and by then queues had already formed with anxious voters itching to affix their crosses on their favourite candidates.
In other stations where a huge turnout of voters was witnessed, the officers decided to separate the people according to alphabetical order of surnames, and this did the trick as the process moved faster than usual.
From as early as 8 o'clock, voters had converged at Mahlanya Primary school, where the elections for the Lobamba Lomdzala constituency were held.
There were no hiccups recorded here and by the time the Weekend Observer crew left, people were happy with the proceedings, while the presence of foreign election observers was visible with their marked half-jackets.
They refused to comment though, saying a summary statement would be released after the whole process was through.
At Lobamba, posters belonging to one of the candidates beseeching people to vote for him was seen, and when this anomaly was reported to the presiding officer, he stated that this was wrong and quickly dispatched a police officer to remove the poster and tear it up.
The poster was hanging on one of the rooms next to the main polling hall, emahhulumba.
At Ezulwini polling station, a young woman was also spotted wearing a T-shirt with the message Khetsa Make (Vote for a woman).
This was quickly reported to the EBC's Ncumbi Maziya who was the returning officer here, and he also stated that this was wrong and dispatched a police officer to remove the young woman from the line. The officer briefly interviewed her, and she was later seen marching away from the line.
When interviewed by this newspaper, she stated that she was not aware that wearing such a t-shirt was against the rules. She mentioned that she had chosen it as it matched well with her jeans.
"In fact, such T-shirts came with my mother from her work place. I just selected it today since I found it matched well with my jeans. I was completely unaware that it was wrong wearing it here today.”
According to the election rules, campaigning of any kind ended on Thursday.
At Mbabane Central High school polling station posters of the candidates were seen emblazoned on the school walls.
When this anomaly was highlighted to the presiding officer, Prince Nhlanhla, he washed his hands off the matter, saying this would have offended the election rules had the posters been pasted inside the hall where the voting took place.
"This is outside our jurisdiction. The community police and the candidates themselves should have removed the posters. We are only concerned with what goes on inside the voting hall, and nothing more," the prince said. All went well in other stations like Sigangeni, Luhlendlweni, Motshane, and other stations under this region. The results of the secondary elections are expected this morning, if all goes according to plan.
All quiet on the eastern front
By Ackel Zwane
KaLanga polling station stood out with a major turnout of voters in the entire Lubombo region yesterday.
The secondary election was earlier on marred by controversies but international observers from the Commonwealth and the Southern African Development Community, among others.
Presiding Officer Boy Sihlongonyane said by 7a.m the crowd could not be contained but thanks to the police presence who had to control the entrance of voters by groups of 10. Commonwealth Observer Rajith Tennakoon from Sri Lanka declared that he had not seen any activity out of the ordinary.
KaShoba Presiding Officer Victus Hlophe also reported calm in his domain and by the afternoon voters were coming in small numbers.
Africa Hadebe, Returning Officer in the same area was all smiles as opposed to the pandemonium that ensued in the primary elections.
Thabane Dlamini and kaNdzangu was bored stiff with the slow movement in the afternoon after a large crowd earlier in the day.
Again in this area, there were no reports of disturbances.
Daniel Shongwe, Presiding Officer in Maphungwane reported that international observers also visited his polling station and witnessed calm proceedings. The election process here started at 7a.m.
At Sitsatsaweni, Presiding Officer Jimson Mahlalela said by midday, he had registered more than half of those who voted during the primary, being over 300, by the end the day he was expecting not less than 500.
Dudu Hlophe, presiding at Tikhuba, received SADC observers after registering a high turnout.
She content with the conduct of voters by saying she had expected 1116 registered and 600 had voted and more were still coming by 4p.m yesterday.
Robert Motsa at Mambane echoed similar sentiments.
Long queues eliminated
By Timothy Simelane
Election officers managed to beat the long queues at the polling stations, subsequently finishing their jobs much earlier that the stipulated closing time.
The Election and Boundaries Commission had stated that voting would begin at 7a.m and end at 6p.m.
However, by 3p.m, voters were coming in drips and draps in most voting stations.
Ephraem Zikakala, the presiding officer at Nkhaba, said three queues were formed for voters. This was a departure to the one queue formed during the primary elections.
"We had no incidents, and queues were eliminated. We also appreciate that the EBC gave us more staff this time, which enabled us to bring the queues to a minimal."
By 3pm, voters were coming in small numbers and election officers were lying idle. If it was not for the stipulated closing time, the officers said they would have left much earlier. Zikalala said observers were also impressed with the smooth flow of the elections.
One of the candidates, Shainah Maseko, said she was also pleased with the manner the queues were handled. She said transport problems forced some candidates to use own means to bring voters to the polling station.
"People should vote for women because men have failed to bring change to society," she said. Maseko had beaten former MP Thulani Dlamini hands down during the primary elections.
Voting by candlelight at Sandleni
By Mfanyana Magongo
Voters at Ka-Lomfa and Ngololweni Imiphakatsi under Sandleni Inkhundla were yesterday afternoon forced to use candles to vote, following a power blackout.
Lights went out at Ngololweni High School where voters had to cast their votes.
The blackout was caused by thunderstorms in the afternoon.
The blackout did not have much effect because many people had voted by then. Polling officers lit candles for the remaining few people to cast their vote.
The Elections and Boundaries Committee vice chairman Mzwandile Fakudze when called about the matters yesterday stressed that the power blackout did not pose any threat to the voting process.
Fakudze highlighted that there were no electronic materials that required the use of power.
“The elections according to all reports received reflected that everything went as planned. There are no incidents of misconduct reported so far. On the issue of electricity blackout, it didn’t have any negative impact in the whole process.
The voting process continued smoothly without the use of electricity. On the whole, we are impressed that everything went well,” said Fakudze.
Gundwane confident of victory
By Mfanyana Magongo
Former Siphofaneni Member of Parliament, Gundwane Gamedze is upbeat the people will send him to the Honourable House for the third consecutive time.
Gamedze, speaking yesterday at Madlenya polling station, stressed that the latest awards presented to him by His Majesty for his outstanding work for his people has been a plus factor during the campaign to parliament.
He highlighted that community members have demonstrated confidence in his capabilities, hence increased the chances to win in the National Secondary Elections.
“I have the strongest feeling that feeling that I may return to the House.
“I am very aware of the tight competition posed by the rest of the nine candidates from the various chiefdoms, but I am still confident that I will make it even this time around.
“This is, however, to say that I undermine the capabilities of the rest of the competitors.
“The way to parliament is no longer full of roses but very challenging.
“Nowadays people are wise and they know what they want, hence you can hardly make empty promises to them,” he stated confidently.
He nonetheless assured that he was ready to support any of the candidates to emerge as the eventual winner in the race.
“I will support whosoever wins in this year’s elections.
“The winner will come back and work hand in hand with the community members for the betterment of the area as a whole and the nation,” he mentions.
He further stressed that given the chance to represent Siphofaneni in parliament for the next five years; he will work together with the people to fulfill what they believe is their priority.
E50 for a vote
By Bheki Gama
Voters who arrived early to queue at Hillside High School polling station went home with bulging pockets.
This was after a Manzini-based charismatic Bishop, Dr. Nash Shongwe, had allegedly dished out E50 notes to those who promised to vote for his son, Bongani Shongwe.
The leader of the Divine Healing Ministries, which has a huge number of followers, has been the chief campaigner for the young man who was hoping for a seat in the next parliament.
A group of women from Kakhoza said they raised a few hundred Emalangeni each after tricking the philanthropist by sending relatives and friends to claim the money using their voting identity cards.
The man of the cloth was watching the distribution exercise a few metres away where he was welcoming arriving voters. Two hired young men were too busy dealing with extended hands to notice the quickly hatched plot to defraud him.
A lady proudly brandished three notes a while later. When asked whether or not she had voted for the ‘right’ man, she answered to the affirmative and admitted that the generosity of the church leader was the main motivator. In response, the Bishop said he had been informed about the allegations earlier in the day. “Someone called me to say he had just heard that I was offering voters E50 notes,” he said, mentioning that the caller said he was aboard a bus.
He mentioned that there were observers and police at the particular polling station who could have arrested him if he contravened the law. He added that the news might have been sparked by those who saw him giving E150 to one of his son’s campaign assistants who wanted to fill fuel in his son’s car.
An elections observer and Director of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security has urged those calling for political changes not to give up.
However, Tanki Mothae advised the progressive movement to respect structures like the country’s constitution when advancing their arguments. He also said whatever is in their agenda should be tabled in a manner that is sensitive to acceptable norms.
LaMgabhi polling station switched, candidates see red
By Njabulo Dlamini
LaMgabhi candidates including former MP Ntuthuko Dlamini saw red when the polling station was changed at the last minute.
The switching of venue did not go down well with the parliament candidates who noted that such had greatly inconvenienced their supporters.
"I had to fill up two times since I had to use my own transport to take supporters to the polling station.
“This is despite that we had agreed with Returning Officer Polycarp Dlamini of the venue for the elections.
"It was not until Thursday when he informed us that the venue had been changed such that voters would be at their respective chiefdoms. I'm totally disappointed with such poor organisation," he said, adding the voters indeed turned up at the agreed central location (Nyandza High School).
He said they had met with the Returning Officer, other MP candidates as well as those standing for the post of Constituency Headman.
In all there were 12 candidates at the said meeting.
For the last three elections (since 1993) voting was done at Nyandza High School, which is a central location for the six chiefs under LaMgabhi constituency according to Ntuthuko.
Another concern he highlighted was that people tend to disregard whatever they were told by the candidates, listening instead to the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC).
"I think the EBC should have consulted Robert Thwala (former Chief Electoral Officer) on how to run the elections," he said.
In response Dlamini (Polycarp) confirmed they had agreed on the venue with the candidates on the Saturday meeting.
"I drafted an announcement that was to run on air about the central location which had been agreed upon between us. However, the EBC would have none of it and ordered that instead the various chiefdoms under the constituency be used.
"But the EBC mitigated the inconvenience that would have been suffered by the residents as kombis were arranged to transport the voters from Nyandza High School, where a majority of residents went to, and to the different chiefdoms," the Returning Officer said.
Some candidates not happy with multiple polling stations
By Hlengiwe Ndlovu
Fears of vote rigging and other forms of malpractice and sabotage in this year's elections have been fuelled by the staging of elections at umphakatsi (chiefdom) polling stations in some areas.
In past years, it has been a norm that secondary elections were held at the Inkhundla centres, but this year some constituencies including Lubulini, Somntongo and Matsanjeni held their elections at polling stations in their chiefdoms.
Interviewed candidates, who preferred to comment on condition of anonymity, raised their fears with the fact that some votes may go missing as it is not possible for both candidates and agents to monitor all the polling stations at the same time.
One of the interviewed candidates in the Lubulini constituency said:. "It would have been better if the whole elections process was held in the same polling station, it would have been easier for one to monitor and be satisfied with the whole process," he said. But interviewed presiding officers shared completely different sentiments on this concern, saying that if anything, chances of rigging were zeroed down now that the elections were held at the umphakatsi level.
Elphas Shiba, polling officer at the Somntongo Inkhundla, categorically stated that the people themselves had requested that elections be staged closer to their home areas.
He said the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) had acted on that consideration, coupled with the people's pleas for the voting process to be brought closer to their vicinities.
"There is absolutely nothing wrong with the separation of polling stations. The process has been made simpler instead because now the voters can easily access their polling stations," he said.
Nature Shabangu, the presiding officer at Matsanjeni constituency, when interviewed on this concern, also predicted that there would be no cases of rigging.
Shabangu said this is because throughout the voting process, the candidates themselves and their agents (bogalajane) were allowed inside the polling stations to satisfy themselves that the process went well.
Moreover, he added that it is ensured that with the sealing and locking away of votes, both agents and candidates are also present to confirm that no foul play occurs during the process
Nine voters turned back
By Sabelo Mamba
Nine people, who wanted to vote at Mafutseni Constituency were yesterday turned back because their names did not appear on the voter's roll despite having registered.
The constituency's Presiding Officer, Sabelo Nhlengethwa, said the nine voters were those who registered next to their work stations, but could not proceed to their Umphakatsi or Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) to secure confirmation letters.
Nhlangethwa said such failure to secure the letters attributed to their names not appearing in the voters.
"We are aware that these people are residents of Mafutseni Constituency, but the law requires that we must disqualify them," he explained. At the time the Weekend Observer arrived at the polling station, the nine people had already left without casting votes.
Nhlengethwa said other short-comings were that some residents lost their voter's card, hence they had to provide them with temporal voter's card "so long their names appear on the voter's roll."
He said, in overall, the voting process went smoothly under the constituency. The candidates for the Member of Parliament position are lawyer Clement Simelane, Joseph Madonsela, Ntandoza Malinga, Austin Mathunjwa and Simon Mtsetfwa.
Nhlengethwa said voting was supposed to be closed at 6 p.m and counting done at 8 a.m this morning.
Candidates fetch voters from home
By Nelsiwe Ndlangamandla
Hlane Candidates took it upon themselves to fetch voters from their homes to the polling stations.
Most of them were not found on the stations and they were reported to be out scouting for voters.
The only candidate found on the station, Mduduzi Magagula, who was making calls arranging transport, said he was in a hurry to fetch voters. He said Hlane had no transport so it was upon them to make sure people get to the polling stations. “As you can see everyone running for this position is not here, we have to find transport and bring people here.” Cars were hired to transport people from the area to the polling stations. Despite the shortage of transport the presiding officer, Sam Tsabedze, said people were at the polling station as early as 7am.
He said they found five people at the station who were eager to choose their rightful candidate. Tsabedze stated that they started operations at around 7:30am. This area had a fairly high number of votes and people were seen on the roads heading for the polling station. Police officers made sure that no one enters the polling station unless they had come to vote. The winningcandidate will replace the late Mandlenkosi Dlamini who did not make it to the secondary elections.
The candidates for Hlane are Dlamini Africa, Magagula Mduduzi, Mngomezulu Charles and Ntshalintshali Alfred. Meanwhile, in Mhlume Inkhundla, there was slow voting. People were coming to the polling station in few numbers. They were also brought by kombis to vote. The presiding officer, who did not want to give her name, stated that even though the voting was slow they encountered no problems.
“As the day grows, we have seen a rise in the number of people who come to vote.” she said.
Mliba elections turnover impressive
By Calsile Masilela
A huge voter turn-out was again witnessed at Mkhiweni to determine who becomes Member of Parliament and Indvuna Yenkhundla.
Candidates for MP are Gideon Dlamini, Rodgers Mamba and Zamokuhle Dlamini. The polling stations where the three aspiring Members of Parliament came from are Ekutsimuleni, Mliba and Mbelebeleni. People were transported from their places to the polling stations and back home because the polling centres were far away from the homesteads.
Both Kutsimuleni and Mliba polling stations were packed to no capacity. It was noticed that this time around the voting process was faster than during the primary elections. The candidates were moving from one poll to another monitoring the progress. Also noticed was that there were more officers this time making it a bit faster for the residents. At Mliba, the elderly people were given first preference to voting, rather than standing in long queues. The presiding officer at Mliba police station Phuza Mabuza stated that the there were over 3 000 people who registered for the elections. He mentioned that everything was well and organised.
Maseko stated that the exercise was now better understood and that was why the process was a bit faster. He mentioned that they were expecting to finish the same day and start preparing to count the votes today at Mkhiweni Inkhundla together with all the other officers from the three polling stations, including Mliba.