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EFF moves in to be official opposition in a third province

Going into this general election, the EFF was the official opposition in Limpopo and the North West.

EFF leaders and supporters at the party's rally campaign in Soweto on Sunday 5 May 2019. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

PRETORIA – The provincial results reveal that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has moved in to be the official opposition in a third province.

Going into this general election, the EFF was the official opposition in Limpopo and the North West.

Now, with more than 85% of the vote tallied in Mpumalanga, they are the number two party in that province, having secured 13% of the vote, up from 6%.

The governing African National Congress (ANC) has retained the lion’s share, more than two-thirds of Mpumalanga’s voters have given the party the thumbs up for another term.

But the story is like it is elsewhere in the country, where it continues to lose ground.

Another party which has elbowed the Democratic Alliance (DA) out of the official opposition spot is the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in KwaZulu-Natal.

Nationally, the picture remains the same; with the ANC, DA and the EFF in spots one, two and three respectively.

As the votes continue to come in, the three leading political parties have expressed mixed feelings about the results they have received currently.

PARTIES WITH FEWER VOTES

As some political parties prepare to approach the Electoral Court, the EFF, which has shown considerable growth, seems unfazed by the latest developments.

The EFF’s deputy president Floyd Shivambu said parties that have not performed well only have themselves to blame.

“They did not campaign. You must ask them how many party agents and volunteers they had. They think by having a press conference, they’ll get it. It’s not how the electorate works. You must go out and speak to the people.”

Several smaller parties say they plan to launch legal action against the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) following what they say were a number of irregularities during Wednesday's national elections.

The parties, which include the African Transformation Movement, Black First Land First, the Land Party, the Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party and the National Freedom Party, say they were sidelined throughout the electioneering process - and will now take action against the IEC.

Earlier on Thursday, the commission said it would conduct a small-scale audit to determine the extent of alleged irregularities in Wednesday’s poll after meeting with angry party leaders on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said that it hopes to be done tallying all the votes by Saturday.

With the ANC at the lead, head of elections Fikile Mbalula said that the results showed that President Cyril Ramaphosa's new dawn message resonated with its supporters.

“Two successive elections and this one I characterise as a turnaround going forward and we need to sustain that.”

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the party would go back to the drawing board after losing some of its support to a surging Freedom Front Plus.

“We’ll be working hard to try and grow as a party, but we’ve set a foundation upon which South Africa must work from.”

The EFF' s deputy president Floyd Shivambu said that the party was growing.

The tallying of the votes continues.

AUDIT

The IEC has announced it has established an audit to check the extent of voter fraud and said so far, four people have been arrested for casting more than one ballot.

The decision was taken after the commission met with political parties contesting elections who raised concerns about the supposedly indelible ink is easy to remove.

In some videos, voters claimed they were able to vote more than once.

On Wednesday night, IEC commissioner Mosotho Moepya told Eyewitness News that while they acknowledged it may have been possible for some voters to cheat the system and vote twice, they had several systems to protect the integrity of the voting system.

But the commission seemed to have changed its tune later on Thursday.

The IEC’s CEO Sy Mamabolo said they would institute an official investigation into this double voting.

“The audit will cover a statistically representative sample of voting stations as well as all voting stations where complaints or allegations of double voting have been received. The final number and selection of the sample will be determined in conjunction with expert statisticians.”

He said the commission would also investigate if the ink used on voters’ thumbs had been easy to wash off.

“The investigation will be done in conjunction with the CSIR and with the full cooperation and support of the supplier. Approximately 200,000 pens were procured through the normal open tender process according to specifications set by the commission.”

He added that: "The audit will involve the capture of information showing the ID numbers of voters who cast votes at each voting station from the 'zip-zip' scanners and completed VEC 4 forms."

EWN reported on Thursday morning that the IEC was seeking answers from the company that sold it the ink, saying to their knowledge, it was not supposed to be removable.

Meanwhile, the commission said the results capture and verification process continued and assured South Africa that it would only announce results for elections where it was "100% confident in the integrity and legitimacy of those results".

By law, the Electoral Commission had seven days in which to announce the results of the elections.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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