30 Jan 2014 10:00am

TLOKWE ALLEGATIONS MUST BE PROVED, SAYS TLAKULA Allegations of collusion and vote rigging in Tlokwe, in the North West, must be backed up with proof, Independent Electoral Commission chairwoman Pansy Tlakula said on Thursday. "We are an independent body. Anyone who alleges collusion by the IEC has to produce evidence to that effect," she said at a The New Age breakfast briefing in Johannesburg. "Some allegations in the City Press, we read about for the first time. Currently there is a case before the Electoral Court on the Tlokwe by-election....There is nothing wrong with our processes being challenged in a court of law...that's democracy." Tlakula said it was impossible to stage "perfect" elections. "Things go wrong in elections. There are no perfect elections...Things will go wrong, that's the nature of elections." The City Press on Sunday reported that eight independent candidates from the Tlokwe municipality filed court papers that hundreds, if not thousands, of voters in the by-elections in the area were not legitimate. The candidates alleged that at least 500 voters were registered at addresses outside the ward areas and at least 600 had provided false or incomplete addresses on voter registration forms, the newspaper reported. Other allegations included that 31 people from other areas were re-registered in the contested wards and transported to the Tlokwe area to vote in the elections. Next month, the Electoral Court in Bloemfontein was due to hear the application by the independent candidates to have the election result set aside, and an independent investigation carried out. The ANC retained six wards in by-elections which took place in the highly contested region in December. Political engagement in the area had been heated after 14 ANC councillors were expelled from the party last July for participating in a motion of no confidence in the ANC's mayor Maphetle Maphetle. He was replaced as mayor by the DA's Annette Combrink. The ANC's national disciplinary committee subsequently overturned the expulsions, but nominated other candidates for the by-elections. Some of the former councillors decided to stand as independents. On Thursday, Tlakula said political parties needed to take responsibility for the voters they transport. "Voters bussed into wards where they are not supposed to vote, that is an offence," she said. "Political parties must take responsibility. People are meant to register and vote where they live". She explained that the IEC did not need a proof of residence to register a voter. "They just give us an address within that voting district and we accept that. "If a person gives us a false address, what can we do?" IEC vice-chairman Terry Tselane said if people were forced to produce a proof of residence, then those in informal settlements and rural areas would have a problem. "How are we going to do that? ...It means we would have to deregister 80 percent of the people on the voters roll," he said. "Every South African must be given an opportunity to vote." Sapa /mar/fg/jje