18 September 2008
666 votes missing at Mbabane East
Stories by Sabelo Mamba
A total of 666 votes were not accounted for during the primary elections at Mbabane East.
Mduduzi Mabila informed High Court Judge Qinisile Mabuza that the serious discrepancy was reflected in a supplementary report prepared by Registrar Lorraine Hlophe.
Mabila explained that the report was prepared following a directive by Judge Jacobus Annandale.
Justice Annandale had ordered the Elections and Boundaries Commission to bring the ballot papers to court for inspection or verification purposes.
The order was issued following an application by an aspiring Member of Parliament Alfred Mndzebele to the effect that the seal on the ballot box had been tampered with.
Mabila submitted that the serious discrepancy was an indication that the elections at Mbabane East were not free and fair. He said there was a gross irregularity, adding that the contentious 666 votes did influence the results. "It is clear one of the parties did benefit from the 666 votes," he argued. Ticheme Dlamini, representing the EBC, said the Registrar withdrew the supplementary report, hence the court should not consider it.
However, Mabila argued that the report could not have been withdrawn without the order of the court. The court was informed that the Registrar (Hlophe) had delegated her duties to senior court official, Musa Shongwe during the inspection of the ballot papers.
Justice Mabuza subsequently ordered a re-inspection (verification) of the ballot and a report be brought to court today.
Esther Dlamini, who was the ultimate winner during the primary elections, is defended by Mandla Mdluli.