We’ll change our councillors after the elections, says ANC official

Win the ward, then we’ll change the councillor, official tells protesting Eastern Cape voters

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Photo of protesters
Ndakana residents protested outside the voting station yesterday. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

The ANC in the Eastern Cape has promised voters that if they don’t like their ward councillor he or she will be replaced after the election.

Responding to protests in Ndakana near Stutterheim during yesterday’s poll, when residents blocked access to Independent Electoral Commission officials, ANC Provincial spokesperson Mlibo Qhoboshiyana said he was aware that some wards were not happy with their candidates.

He said “mistakes” had been made by the ANC or the IEC and candidates had been “mixed up”.

“We told all our members that they must vote and win the ward. Then once that is done, if we find out that there was a mix up of candidates then we will ask the current candidate to resign, then put in the right candidate,” he said.

According to Jaap de Visser, professor of Public Law at the University of the Western Cape, if a ward councillor resigns or is removed by his or her party, a by-election has to take place.

Yesterday, residents of Ndakana and Cambridge, near East London, protested against the choice of ANC candidates in their areas, refusing to vote in the municipal elections.

There were several arrests and 23 people are to appear in court in East London and King William’s Town.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci said seven people aged between 33 and 45 had been arrested in Cambridge. She said they had burned tyres and rubble while protesting against the choice of candidate.

Soci said other people had been arrested in Ndakana early yesterday morning when residents blocked the road with trees and stones preventing IEC officials from entering the village.

All those arrested would appear in court soon, she said.

When GroundUp arrived at Ndakana yesterday some residents were picketing outside the voting station in rainy and cold weather. They said they would not vote until the ANC brought back the candidate they had selected.

They said they had chosen Mzukisi Mpini as candidate and had been shocked when ANC officials had told them to vote for Xola Nqatha, whom they had never seen.

“We are not going to vote for Nqatha. Not now, not ever. If ANC does not come to us then we will sit here until the voting station closes and make sure that no one is going to vote,” said Nowi Ntlombe.

She said she was an ANC member “and I will die as an ANC member” but she would not vote for a candidate she had not selected.

Ntlombe said the community had seen Nqatha for the first time on election posters. “He was never introduced to us and we don’t even know where he stays,” she said.

Some of the protesters said the previous ward councillor had done nothing for them and he was not from the area.

“We are not making the same mistake twice,” said Ntlombe, to applause from other protesters.

GroundUp tried to talk to Mpini but we were told he had left his home, fearing for his safety.

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TOPICS:  Elections

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