'I wasn't canvassing': Zille on what led to her being removed from voting site

In a Facebook post on Monday, Helen Zille said that she was accused of canvassing voters waiting to cast their ballots at the Fernwood Park Primary School and summarily ejected from the voting station.

FILE: DA Federal Council chairperson Helen Zille. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Democratic Alliance (DA) federal council chairperson Helen Zille has explained the events that led to her being forcibly removed from a voting station in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Zille said that she was accused of canvassing voters waiting to cast their ballots at the Fernwood Park Primary School and summarily ejected from the voting station.

She denied canvassing, saying that she was greeting and encouraging frustrated voters to stay in the long, slow-moving queue for a little while longer. Zille went on to explain that she had been trying to suggest ways of speeding up the voting process to the presiding officer but that her suggestions had been met with hostility.

"When I made my way to the front of the queue, two of the ANC party agents told me to stop canvassing in the queue. I told them I was not canvassing, I was urging people to stay in the queue despite their intense frustration at the inordinate delay. Using my written authorisation, I again entered the voting station and approached Ms Latola. She immediately snapped at me that I was canvassing in the queue. I said that was not true, and told her not to accuse me of this when she had no evidence to that effect at all," Zille said.

She said that it was at this point that a police officer then "frog-marched" her to the gate and then also confiscated her colleague's phone.

Zille and her colleague then proceeded to the Bethelsdorp Police Station "to lay a charge of assault and a charge of theft". The DA federal chair said that her colleague's phone was returned.

She added that she returned to the school and found that her suggestion of splitting the queue alphabetically had still not been implemented and when she queried the presiding officer about this, she was brushed off and told that she was going to lunch.

Zille blasted the "IEC’s incompetence", saying that cadre deployment had destroyed the IEC.

"The delays today at the Fernwood Park Primary Voting Station were clearly deliberate, and scores of voters left without voting in this DA stronghold. The same, apparently, applies in many other places. If elections lose their credibility in South Africa, the IEC will have much to answer for," Zille said.

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