9 September 2008
Polling Officer defends ballot box
By Sabelo Mamba
MBABANE East Polling Station's Presiding Officer Mpumelelo Mamba has denied allegations that the seal on the ballot box containing votes was tampered with.
Mamba, in his answering affidavit filed at the High Court, says the ballot box was sealed on Saturday, the 23rd August, 2008 after voting had ended.
He says it was produced again the following day in the morning before voting was proceeded with.
Mamba explains that it was inspected by candidates, who never made any complaints regarding any tampering with the seal.
"It therefore was approved not to have been tampered with," he states.
Justice Stanley Maphalala recently issued an interim order declaring the primary elections at the Mbabane East null and void following an urgent application filed by one of the candidates, Alfred Boy Boy Mndzebele.
Mndzebele raised a strong suspicion that the seal on the ballot box had been tampered with, hence the court also issued an order directing the police to conduct investigations.
The overall winner during the primary elections was former Member of Parliament Esther Dlamini, who obtained over 900 votes.
Mamba says when the ballot box was sealed, such was done in the presence of the candidates.
He says the candidates were also informed to accompany and witness when the boxes were taken to the police station for safe keeping.
"When the ballot boxes were inspected on Monday, the 25th August, 2008 for counting of votes, they were still in the same manner as they were sealed," Mamba explains.
"The applicant (Mndzebele) arrived late when the ballot boxes were opened on Monday. At the time he arrived, we had already inspected the ballot boxes containing the votes for Member of Parliament."
The case will be argued this week before Justice Jacobus Annandale.
Mduduzi Mabila is appearing for Mndzebele while Sanele Khuluse is representing the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC).