77 voting stations fingered as hot spots, 10 believed to be real threats
Cops braced for action as North West simmers with tension between ANC and EFF
A combination of service delivery protests, a municipal worker strike and political party provocation has been cited as contributing to possible instability in North West when SA goes to the polls on Wednesday.
It recently emerged that North West has been identified as a key hot spot for possible violence and disruptions of this week’s elections as the police, the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) and the governing ANC have been on tenterhooks.
Intelligence officials have raised red flags about protests hampering the voting process, and as a result police minister Bheki Cele announced a beefing up of police officers in the province.
The ANC, however, says it believes the protests and threats of election violence are a ploy by the opposition to make people stay away from the polls.
The head of the ANC’s campaign in that province, Mmamloko ko Kubayi-Ngubane, said the IEC had flagged 77 voting stations who face the risk of disruptions, but they had managed to engage with the communities to allow voting to take place. She said the party was still concerned that 10 voting stations may be at risk.
She said protests were engineered by the opposition to reduce the ANC’s majority: “I believe the opposition is going into the community and saying ‘don’t go out to vote’ because they are not impacted negatively when the voter turnout is low.”
But the EFF and the DA said this was a bare-faced lie, and blamed the widespread protests on internal ANC factionalism.
“ANC factional battles are threatening the stability of the province in the election,” said the EFF’s Papiki Babuile.
He said the EFF, which is the official opposition in North West, had nothing to do with the violent protests that have persisted across the province.
“The ANC itself is disrupting the elections,” he said, adding that EFF supporters were opting to vote against the ANC instead of protesting.
The DA’s Chris Hattingh said they believed the protests were spurred on by supporters of former premier Supra Mahumapelo.
“I don’t think it's correct that it’s the EFF. I think it’s the Supra faction,” he said.
North West has been plagued with service delivery protests in Brits, Potchefstroom, Vryberg and Bloemhof.
Municipal workers are currently striking in the Matlosana municipality.
The protests reached boiling point in the Madibeng municipality when the ANC was forced to make a last-ditch effort to save face by suspending mayor Jostina Mothibi.
Kubayi-Ngubane said there were enough concerns from the community that warranted her suspension.
She said the situation in the province had mixed causes.
She said some protests were legitimate but blamed the EFF for trying to destabilise the province. “They want to push people not to come out.”
The North West police said that for operational reasons they could not disclose where the hot spots were.
“While some of the disruptions may be spontaneous, the Provjoints (provincial joint intelligence structure) is ready to respond and the message is that crime and violent disruptive protests will not be tolerated, especially from those whose objective will be to impede free and safe elections,” said Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone.