DA lays complaint over hall ‘double booking’ : The Herald

THE DA has laid a complaint with the Independent Electoral Commission after the ANC used the Kuyga Community Hall for an electioneering event, despite the DA having booked the same venue for its Ward 40 by-election campaign.

The party believes that ANC violated the elections code of conduct signed by all political parties last month.

On Sunday, DA leader Helen Zille was in Nelson Mandela Bay to address a crowd of DA activists in Kuyga ahead of next week Wednesday’s by-election.

However, although the DA had a slip proving that the party had paid to use the Kuyga hall, the ANC held a music concert inside and refused to leave.

ANC regional elections team convener Thembinkosi Mafana said on Sunday that the ANC had booked the hall with the city’s budget and treasury department.

He did not, however, produce a copy of the slip.

Yesterday, DA deputy provincial leader Bobby Stevenson said there was no mix-up of bookings, but deliberate sabotage.

“The DA was prevented by the ANC from holding a meeting in the Kuyga Community Hall,” he said.

“This was not some innocent mistake made by the ANC, or mix-up of bookings, but a deliberate attempt to sabotage our meeting.”

Stevenson said they regarded the matter as serious because “democracy slips away in a country slowly”.

“We are fighting a marginal by-election, it is hotly contested,” he said.

“If there is behaviour like this now, it worries us that there won’t be a free and fair by-election.”

The ANC and DA will be battling it out for control of Ward 40 as other parties have decided not to contest it.

It was previously an ANC ward. In 2011 the DA won 53.77% of the votes, whereas the ANC received just 39.83%. It was a small margin of about 500 votes.

In the letter to the IEC provincial office, Stevenson complained that even though the police had informed Mafana that the DA had the only valid booking, he refused to leave.

The DA’s IEC representative, Margaret De Andrade, said the party would give the IEC seven days to respond.

“I’m not sure how they will deal with the matter because we’ve never had an instance like this,” she said.

“They overstepped the code of conduct, but I don’t think they’ll be able to stop the political party from contesting.

“If they receive a fine, it will be decided by the IEC.”

Mafana could not be reached for comment yesterday.

However, ANC regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said: “The elections in that ward are being coordinated by the branch.

“As the ANC, we will respond to that complaint by the DA.” — Rochelle de Kock