Voting delayed for two hours at Lichtenburg station

Mpho Koka Journalist
Thabo Mpempe primary school voting station in Boikhutso Extension 3, Lichtenburg.
Thabo Mpempe primary school voting station in Boikhutso Extension 3, Lichtenburg.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

There was a delay for almost two hours to the start of voting at Thabo Mpempe primary school voting station in Boikhutso ward 3 as dozens of residents of the dysfunctional Ditsobotla local municipality in Lichtenburg in the North West, stood in long queues.

The voting station had not opened by 08:30am due to complaints by political party agents about the IEC presiding officer at the station.

As early as 6:30am, the residents of Boikhutso arrived at the voting station in high spirits on Monday morning ahead of the municipal elections.

Some dressed in their political party regalia, young and old people of Boikhutso came in their numbers to cast their votes. Some brought their own chairs as they waited for the voting station to open.

Party agents claimed that the presiding officer was instructed by the IEC not to preside over the election at Thabo Mpempe voting station because of how she mishandled the special voting process over the weekend.

Police arrived at the station and had to intervene and deal with the issue causing the start of voting at the station. 

Independent party agent Enock Voorby said: “The presiding officer did not seal the boxes of this station for the special voting that happened on Saturday and Sunday. The IEC informed her that she should not preside over today’s voting process.”

DA party agent Kgomotso Bogatsu echoed Voorby’s sentiments.

“We cannot start the voting process until we get a new presiding officer. We are waiting for the IEC to come sort out this issue,” said Bogatsu.

After talks of almost 30 minutes between police, party agents and the presiding officer, with voters looking on, an agreement was reached that the presiding officer should not preside over the election, which was received with joy and praise by voters. 

Voting has since commenced at the station. 

The Ditsobotla municipality has been rocked by ANC factional battles, which led to the collapse of service delivery and saw the appointment of 12 municipal managers, two administrators and two mayors in just five years.

The instability in the administration of the municipality has led to poor service delivery with many residents of Lichtenburg where the municipality sits living without water, while there were constant power cuts and heaps of uncollected refuse on almost every corner.

The roads are in a state of disrepair, with potholes everywhere, while some roads that were once tarred have deteriorated into gravel due to a lack of maintenance.

One of Ditsobotla's biggest employers, Clover, announced in June that it would be moving its cheese factory from Litchenburg under Ditsobotla local municipality to Queensburgh in KwaZulu-Natal.

Clover at the time cited years of “experiencing water and power outages and the surrounding infrastructure has not been maintained by the municipality”.

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