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Peter Obi’s assertion, “no glitches in South Africa’s election,” false

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Claim: Peter Obi asserted via an X post that the South African election was conducted without technical glitches.

Peter Obi’s assertion, “no glitches in South Africa’s election,” false

Full Text

On May 29, 2024, South Africa conducted its most competitive election since the end of apartheid to elect new leaders into different offices.

After the exercise, the African National Congress (ANC) received 40.18 per cent of the vote, followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) with 21.81 votes. In comparison, the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party clinched 14.58 votes.

While comparing the South African elections with the last general election held in Nigeria in 2023, Peter Obi (@PeterObi), the Labour Party presidential candidate for the 2023 elections, said that the election held in South Africa was free from technical glitches.

“With about 60% voter turnout, over 90% of polling open on time, allowing diaspora voting, the results and updates were real-time without any technical glitches during the election,” Obi asserted in a series of tweets on Saturday, June 8, 2024. 

At the time of writing, the post has amassed over 1,000 views, 3931 likes, 1156 reposts, 22 quotes, and 23 bookmarks.

Going through the comment section, many users lampooned the effectiveness of the 2023 polls in Nigeria, while few others expressed disbelief in Mr Obi’s assertion on the foreign country’s elections.

@Ugwuja_Nnaemeka wrote, “Nigeria’s 2023 election is very lamentable. A situation where the state captors/ruling party hijacked the electoral institution (INEC) to win an election at all costs.”

Another user, @Otakerioghenero, asserted, “Nigeria electoral process is full of controversy and technical glitches.”

Meanwhile, @Banktitus stated, “South African politicians are not cry-cry politicians like you and your followers. There were glitches as well; servers were down for about 2 hours, and uncounted ballot boxes were found dumped somewhere.”

@maganajariche said, “(You) (are) wrong sir. There (was) a major glitch the VMD (BVAS equivalent) failed nationally, the key thing was the people r(are) more law-abiding and respect institutions & love their country.”

DUBAWA sought to investigate this claim due to the contradictory comments and audience engagement. 

Verification

We conducted a Google keyword search to determine whether there were no technical glitches in the South Africa election, as Peter Obi had claimed.

In probing, we came across a report by Punch newspaper, published on May 31, 2024, reporting that the official website of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) was down during the vote count. 

Also, Reuters reported a similar situation, adding that the technical issue had been addressed two hours after the result page went blank due to technical upheavals.

As part of our investigation, we contacted Fidelis Zvomuya, a journalist with Agri TV based in Pretoria, to confirm the claim’s authenticity. 

“There were technical glitches that resulted in snaking queues. The glitches were mainly with the Voter Management Devices, ” he told DUBAWA. 

Jedi Ramalapa, another journalist with Sound Africa from South Africa, also noted that the election had technical issues before they were finally resolved. 

“The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), South Africa’s webpage/dashboard went blank for about two hours after voting day, and there were long queues and other smaller complaints, but that’s about it,” she said. 

We found a report by Reuters that corroborated our findings that the election dashboard went blank for about two hours on Friday, May 31, 2024. 

Going through the official X handle of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa, we came across a post from May 31, 2024, alerting the public about a technical problem it experienced.

“We apologise for the issue with our public-facing NPE system and are working on restoring service. The results system is still operational, and local offices continue to capture results,” the post reads.

Conclusion 

Our findings contradict Mr Obi’s claim and indicate reports of technical difficulties during the South African general election.

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