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Tlokwe saga very difficult - IEC

IEC CEO Mosotho Moepya says they are trying to work out what happened.

People arrive at the Tshupane primary school polling station in Tlokwe to vote. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN

JOHANNESBURG/POTCHEFSTROOM - Tlokwe residents in the North West on Wednesday voted in large numbers in the area's by-elections.

At the same time, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has admitted the process has been difficult for the organisation.

On Tuesday evening, the electoral court postponed elections in five wards due to vote on Wednesday.

This after an IEC official was suspended on Monday.

There have also been claims from independent candidates that the IEC has been biased against them.

IEC CEO Mosotho Moepya says they are trying to work out what happened.

"We have worked very hard and we will continue to work hard. I accept that for whatever happens in Tlokwe, we have to put the situation right."

Moepya says this has been a tough time for his organisation.

"It has of course been very difficult dealing with this matter and I welcome the clarity that has been brought [by the electoral court]."

IEC WARNED

The Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa (EISA)'s Ebrahim Fakir says these problems must be seen in perspective.

"It is a very, very, very tiny proportion if you think about the overall scale of the number of electoral staff which are actually involved."

But he says the IEC must also be more aware of its image at this time.

"If I were the IEC, I would not be glib and I would not be complacent about the increasing momentum of negative public perception."

The IEC is also waiting to hear what action Parliament will take against its chairperson Pansy Tlakula who's been accused of maladministration.

This after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found irregularities in Tlakula's handling of a lease for the IEC's new headquarters.

VOTING

ANC candidates in the municipality have gone head-to-head with their former councillors in the by-elections with accusations of intimidation against both sides.

The ruling party is taking on independent candidates in two wards and a Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor in another.

If it wins enough votes in all three wards, the ANC will take back the Tlokwe legislature from the DA.

In ward 26, an ANC and an independent candidate blamed each other for a scuffle that broke out in the area.

Both men say they're feeling confident about the vote.

Butiki 'Stone' Mahlabe, a former ANC member now running as an independent, won the ward with 93 percent last year and says he wants to prove to the ANC that people still want him around.

He says people aren't only chosen because of their party affiliation.

But his opponent Oupa Mogoshane disagrees, saying the only reason Mahlabe was elected before was because of his place in the ruling party.

"Now he's outside the ANC, that's not going to happen again," he said.

The polls are due to close at 9pm and results are expected on Thursday morning.

Police are maintaining a heavy presence in the area.

North West University political analyst André Duvenhage says the vote could go either way.

"We are talking about a 50/50 race. I think that the ANC probably has the advantage because they are using food parcels and other techniques."