Sihle Zikalala. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Sihle Zikalala. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The ANC has lost a last-minute bid to postpone a by-election in an IFP-controlled municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

The ANC said in a statement ahead of the by-election in Ward 4 in Mtubatuba on Wednesday that it had not only discovered malpractice but a "fraudulent act to tamper with the voters’ roll and registering voters in a ward where [they] do not legally reside".

"We want to inform the people of KwaZulu-Natal and SA that, after carefully analysing the voters’ roll‚ the ANC noted a list of more than 200 people from the nearby ward — [and] others with addresses that could not be verified. It was also strange to pick up many people who once registered in Hlabisa now appearing in Ward 4. How [is that] possible?"

ANC provincial task-team co-ordinator Sihle Zikalala said the party had formally asked the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) to postpone the by-election to ensure that the democratic rights of the people of Ward 4 are protected.

On Tuesday afternoon, the ANC’s legal team applied for an interdict in the High Court in Durban to stop the by-election, but they were unsuccessful as a judge ruled that the party should have approached the court with the request last week.

"As the ANC, we’re disappointed that the court ruled against our application while there is clear evidence of electoral malpractice, which has been confirmed by the IEC‚" said Zikalala.

"Though the by-election will continue‚ we have resolved to launch an objection to ensure the illegal interference with the voting process does not become a permanent feature in our democracy."

IEC provincial electoral officer Mawethu Mosery denied claims of electoral malpractice ahead of the by-election. He confirmed that the matter had been brought to the IEC’s attention and said the issue of the demarcation and registration of voters was not malpractice.

"What we have discovered is misalignment of a voter boundary that has not been corrected," he said. "The way the ward boundary is demarcated has divided the Dukuduku community in half and people have registered at the wrong venue."

Mosery said the electoral body did not accede to the ANC’s request for the by-election to be postponed. "It provided, however, a mechanism to isolate votes of those deemed to be incorrectly registered in Ward 4. That process is currently being implemented."