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HOUSING MINISTRY PLEADS FOR MERCY ON ELECTIONS

MBABANE – ‘‘We have become a laughing stock, but it’s not entirely our fault.’’

Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Prince Simelane, has pleaded for mercy from the nation with regard to the challenges that the ministry encountered during the Local Government Elections. Following reports that some of the polling stations were marred with drama as they ran out of ballot papers, the minister admitted that they indeed encountered the challenges. Our sister publication, Times SUNDAY, reported that voters in some polling stations such as Fonteyn Social Care and Msunduza Community Hall had to wait for at least five hours due to delayed delivery of ballot papers.

Exercising

It was reported that while others endured the situation, some voters ended up not exercising their right to vote because they decided to leave. Prince Simelane said the ministry was aware of the difficulties in some of the polling stations and he pleaded with the nation, particularly residents of the areas affected, to forgive them. The minister was addressing the media during a press conference that was held at the ministry’s conference room yesterday. He shared that as much as they had become a laughing stock for failure to execute the elections smoothly, it was not entirely their fault as they procured the ballot papers on time, only to be told by the supplier that they were not readily available. “We had prepared everything on time and the update we got from the supplier was that the ballot papers would be available by 3pm on Friday. However, when we made a follow-up, we were requested to wait again until at least 9pm that evening but the wait lasted the whole night,” he shared.

The minister emphasised that they had done all that they had to do in preparation for the elections, but unfortunately it was not enough to ensure a smooth elections exercise.
The minister further mentioned that the results that were announced by the ministry after the voting exercise were a true reflection. He shared that so far, there were no complaints from the people who contested the elections, but the ministry was not popping the champagne yet as people may come to register their dissatisfaction. “Activities like elections are prone to complaints from the people who contested, but so far, we have not received any complaint. However, it is not to say we do not anticipate receiving them as there might be those that complain of foul play,” he said. It is on record that some candidates who did not make it have been making a hue and cry about what they termed ‘unfair’ elections. Apart from claiming that certain individuals who were supposed to vote for them failed to do so on the day, due to shortages of ballot papers, they also complained about alleged corrupt elements.These include some candidates transporting voters to the polling station. Prince Simelane forwarded the ministry’s gratitude to all stakeholders who participated in the elections, especially the officers tasked with the administration of the whole exercise for their dedication. The minister also announced that the interim council that was appointed into office would continue to be there as the new elected councillors were still going to be orientated before they commenced their duties.