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Chaotic Mbabane West elections called off

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image Gogo Alvina Bhembe casts her vote.

MBABANE – Primary Elections for the Mbabane West Constituency at Bahai and Magwaneni polling stations had to be called off yesterday.
A physical confrontation among voters and elections officers was almost witnessed, as a result.

The chaotic incident which saw residents of Mangwaneni rioting while armed with tree twigs in a toyi toyi fashion was a result of a blunder in the ballot papers.
A picture of one of the Bucopho nominees appeared twice in the ballot paper at the expense of a competitor.
His picture appeared a second time under the name of one of his competitors, something which did not go down well with the disadvantaged candidate’s supporters.

The candidate whose picture appeared twice in the ballot papers was from another Inkhundla and not known by Mangwaneni voters.
Mangwaneni residents were disappointed to discover that the picture of their favourite candidate for Bucopho was not in the ballot paper.
Above his name was the second picture of his rival candidate from another Inkhundla.

The residents, mostly the youth from Mangawaneni, then caused a scene demanding that the whole elections process be stopped.
What led to the confrontation between residents and election officers who were under the police protection was the suggestion that the other categories should not be affected while the issue of the Bucopho ballot sheet was being resolved.

“We just cannot allow that. The whole process needs to be stopped. How can we have faith that nothing else has gone wrong today with the other ballots?” complained a section of the youth who were found outside the gate.
The ballot boxes were then closed while consultations were being made with Elections and Boundaries Commission at the Headquarters in Nkhanini.

 The Presiding officer was also reported to have left for the EBC offices when sought for clarity by journalists what could have transpired and a way forward after the disturbance.
It was later announced to residents that they should come and vote again today.

It could not be readily established if those who had already voted would have to come back and start afresh.
Primary elections at both Bahai and Mangwaneni were postponed to today.
However, other polling stations under the Mbabane West Constituency continued without a problem.

87-yr-old votes

MBABANE – Alvina Bhembe (87) could not miss out on the Primary Elections voting process. With the assistance of her walking stick, the elderly Bhembe said she was very excited to have cast her vote in what she described as building the nation’s future

She was found at Mbabane Central High polling station, which is under Mbabane West.
“I have been voting all my life ever since I was a young lady. Once again, in 2013, I am very excited to have been lead by the grace of God to vote again,” she said as she walked out.

Also, other people living with disabilities were also assisted as they cast their vote for the Swaziland National 2013 Primary Elections.    
On the other hand, the Mbabane East Polling station at Woodlands High School, Sidvwashini, was a sorry sight.
While other areas witnessed a massive turnout in voters, this was not the case here.

When this publication made a stop here election officers and police officers were lazing around with no one to attend to.
“What I am seeing here is very disappointing,” said Mfundo ‘Shakura’ Dlamini.
“It like many people decided to stay indoors and snub the elections.  I do not want to believe that the elections are meant for non suburb residents. Everyone is expected to participate in this nation building exercise. People from suburb areas should not think that elections are for rural folks,” said the disappointed Dlamini.

No presiding officer at the Woodlands Polling station could comment.
Journalists were allowed to take pictures of officers who had little, if not nothing, to do as the Times Sunday team left.


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