The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in the Western Cape is dealing with an avalanche of complaints, lodged mainly by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the African National Congress (ANC), over the unavailability of ballot papers at a number of polling stations, with both parties claiming this has cost them votes.
The DA’s campaign manager in the province has gone so far as to call for the resignation of provincial electoral officer Courtney Sampson after polling day saw a number of voting stations run out of ballot papers, sometimes repeatedly.
ANC provincial leaders have also fingered poor planning and training of elections official.
The DA has fingered the IEC as the biggest obstacle to voter turnout in a province, where cold and rainy weather may also have dampened turnout.
Western Cape campaign manager David Maynier said the party’s lodged more than 700 complaints with the IEC.
“The shocking performance of the IEC was the biggest obstacle to turnout in this election and not the rain. And as far as I am concerned, Courtney Sampson could best serve the democratic project by resigning.”
ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs also believes the IEC has cost the party votes.
“We’re concerned at the impact of the IEC’s failure to provide adequate provisioning, ballot papers and logistics planning for us. That’s a very critical issue.”
Sampson has apologized and said by law, ballot papers have to be transported under police escort, which led to delays. He expected the wintry weather to dampen turnout.
Both parties pulled out all the stops to get voters back to vote before polls closed.
Despite the criticism, international election observers have praised the commission in the Western Cape for what they’ve described as a smooth operation.
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in South Africa Andrei Zaharescu said: “From my point of view, everything was incredible and amazing. We spoke to people and it was very good for them.”