matatiele vote rigging claims

THE Matatiele border dispute has taken a new twist with fresh allegations that those in favour of the area remaining in KwaZulu-Natal were rigging votes.

The allegations are from the ANC in the Alfred Nzo region. The leaders are furious and want the matter tabled before the ANC national executive committee (NEC) as soon as possible.

The results have not yet been made public but indications are that they favour reincorporation into KwaZulu-Natal.

The ANC's Alfred Nzo region spokesperson, Mthetheleli Ntsengwana, said "votes were rigged" and threatened to take the matter to the NEC.

He accused KwaZulu-Natal government officials, who were part of the voting process, of "siding with those who want the town to be ceded to their province. Voters were told to vote for the province where ANC President Jacob Zuma lives".

"Even the ink used was problematic, leading to some voters voting repeatedly," he said.

Ntsengwana said the issue had divided the community and that tribalism was at the core of the conflict.

Eastern Cape local government MEC Sicelo Gqobhane visited the area on Saturday to monitor the voting process.

Three people were arrested after allegations that they disrupted the voting process.

Gqobhane's adviser, Nhlakanipho Nkontwana, said as far as they were concerned all went well. They were waiting for final results and did not want to "comment further".

The Matatiele border dispute began in 2005 when the government decided to bring the town into Eastern Cape. The decision caused a huge outcry that resulted in several protests and court battles. Public hearings were also held and resulted in many favouring incorporation into KwaZulu-Natal.

Matatiele Maluti mass action organising committee convenor Mandla Galo said the people had spoken and this clearly showed the decision to incorporate the town into Eastern Cape was taken without the will of the majority of the people of the area.