Opposition parties are contesting the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) victory in the SRC elections.
Opposition students parties at Wits University have cited irregularities for their dissatisfaction with the way in which SRC elections results were handled this year.
Provisional results of the Wits SRC (2016/2017) were announced on Monday morning with the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) taking all 15 seats, however both opposition parties, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Project W, rejected the announcement, calling it “premature”.
Koketso Poho, acting chairperson of the EFF, said his party called for manual counting of the votes before the elections began because they felt that the electronic results could be “tampered” with.
“We secured a meeting with the Dean of Students to discuss the issue of manual counting, the Dean agreed and as such everyone had prepared 20 observers even before electronic counting began,” says Poho.
According to Poho, the EFF believes there were irregularities in the electronic counting as the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission), could not explain who the individual that conducted the electronic count was or whether he was a Wits employee.
Project W raised their own concerns about the results via a Facebook post on Monday. According to their statement, the IEC had instituted a new protocol that would use manual counting to verify electronic counting, an idea that was suggested by the EFF and agreed upon by all parties. But it apears that the manual counting process was abruptly stopped last Friday.
Project W cited a response from the IEC which apparently said, “The IEC commenced with the manual verification following the conclusion of Electronic Vote Counting. The process was however stopped when different political party observers had to leave as the last circuit bus was about to depart. Furthermore, the IEC noted the process was going to be compromised due to participants’ (observers and Electoral officers) fatigue and agitation by some”.
However, according to Poho, “No one was tired, the IEC made an announcement at 11pm about busses ending at midnight and that they had not anticipated that the process would take this long given the design of the ballot.”
Poho contends that, “The ballots were stored in a place without CCTV cameras for the entire weekend, even when we expressed our objections to this.”
“Manual counting could have changed the results and we believe this is why they stopped it midway, anything could’ve happened to the ballots over the weekend,” he added
Mpendulo Mfeka, chairperson of SASCO, said that to ensure there were no irregularities during the electronic counting process, manual counting was observed which verified the standing results.
The Progressive Youth Alliance won all 15 seats in last week’s election which saw a voter-turnout of 8 343.