Friday, August 31, 2018

Polling Station Riot and Fresh Accusations of Vote-Rigging Reported at Swaziland Election

More accusations of vote-rigging and illegal practice during the first round of Swaziland’s election are emerging with calls for some votes to be re-run.

The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has come under attack for ignoring complaints.
One newspaper in Swaziland (recently renamed Eswatini by the kingdom’s absolute ruler King Mswati III) reported ‘riots’ at one polling station.

There are claims that at the Ezikhotheni chiefdom in the Shiselweni 1 constituency candidates brought strangers to vote. EBC polling officials were notified but did nothing about it, the Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (30 August 2018).

The outgoing member of parliament for the area Michael Sigodvo Nxumalo, who was standing for election again but lost, told the Observer unknown people in the community being were ‘smuggled’ into the polling centre.

‘EBC officials did not listen to our concerns. we did not want the counting of the votes to proceed without first knowing if all those that voted were from Ezikhotheni.’

The Observer added, ‘Nxumalo claimed that certain vehicles brought textile workers to vote when they were known to be from other areas.’

The Observer also reported (30 August 2018) that after ‘riots at the Mshingishingini polling station due to the lack of electricity, election nominees have called for fresh elections to be conducted’.

Candidates have protested that rules ‘stipulated by the EBC rule book state that a riot had the power to disturb an election, thus distort the eventual election results,’ it added.

The Observer said the riot lasted an hour and was caused ‘by people who wanted to vote illegally after voting had concluded’.

An unnamed source told the Observer, ‘The rioting individuals are the people who entered the polling station after 19.00 hours as they took advantage that there was no electricity at the voting centre. They broke down the polling station gate and forced themselves in and were added as though they had queued, The EBC officers could not stop the crowd.’

Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Khulani Mamba confirmed the riots at the Mshingishingini polling station, the Observer added.

Candidates at Mvembili claimed the winner of the constituency executive (Bucopho) election was an imposter. They said Martin Magagula was not from the Northern Hhohho area but Dvokolwako, and therefore he stole the election victory. They want him stripped of his victory.

Meanwhile, Ayanda Shiba, aged 22, was fined E1,000 by the Siteki magistrate after he admitted trying to vote twice using two different voting cards at Good Shepherd polling station, at Makhewu in Siteki.

There have been a number of claims of vote-rigging and malpractice emerging in the days following the election.

Most presiding officers at polling stations did not know how to seal ballot boxes properly, the Coordinating Assembly of NGOs (CANGO) said in a report on the conduct of the election.

At Kwaluseni about 16 candidates and their agents walked out of the counting in protest at cheating and called for the election in the constituency to be cancelled.

EBC Commissioner Ncumbi Maziya said many complaints had been received from across the kingdom, including Ezulwini, Lobamba Lomdzala, Kwaluseni and Mpolonjeni in the Lubombo region.

Swaziland’s elections are recognised outside the kingdom to be undemocratic. Political parties are banned from taking part and the King appoints the Prime Minister and government ministers.

See also

Fears Grow of Vote-Rigging and Malpractice in Swaziland Election. Ballot Boxes Not Properly Sealed

Independent Election Observers in Swaziland Barred From Some Polling Stations, Told to Sign Secrecy Forms

First Round of Swaziland Election Marred by Inefficiency and Fear of Vote-Rigging

Chaos and Violence Reported Across Swaziland as Voters go to the Polls

Organised Certainty, Why elections in Swaziland are not democratic

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