Van Rooyen leaves 'voluntarily' after EFF supporters allegedly block him in Metsimaholo
Johannesburg – Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Des van Rooyen "voluntarily" left a voting station in Metsimaholo, Free State, on Wednesday morning after he was blocked by EFF supporters, his spokesperson told News24.
Around 10 EFF supporters apparently refused the minister entry to a polling station in a church and asked that he leave the area.
Van Rooyen was visiting the area in his capacity as the chairperson of the inter-ministerial committee on elections. The Metsimaholo municipality is caught in a highly contested by-election after an EFF, DA and local Metsimaholo Community Association (MCA) coalition fell apart.According to Cogta spokesperson Legadima Leso, the EFF supporters erected a large tent at the entrance of the polling station, blocking the minister's access to the polling station.
The ministry, however, said it did not intend laying a complaint with the Electoral Commission of South Africa.
"When the minister arrived for his oversight visit, the supporters asked that he leave the area and the minister said: 'You know what, in the interest of free and fair elections let me leave'," Leso said."The media should be granted their right to do oversight of important events such as elections."
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, EFF Free State chairperson Kgotso Morapela and secretary Mandisa Makesini could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.
On social media, users joked that the people of Metsimaholo did not recognise "Gupta stooges".All 21 wards and 21 proportional representative seats are up for grabs in the by-election, with the SACP contesting elections for the first time in the party's history.
The DA, which accused the former MCA mayor of bias towards the ANC, sent out its big guns to campaign in the area, hoping to govern its first municipality in the province.
Provincial DA chair Patricia Kopane spent days in the area campaigning.
The EFF is also hoping to attain an overall majority in the municipality to have a governance track record leading up to the 2019 general elections.
In the 2016 municipal elections, the ANC won 19 seats, the DA 12, the EFF eight, the MCA two and the FF Plus got one.