Footage shows boxes containing ballots accounted for by SA electoral body

For the first time in South Africa’s 30 years of post-apartheid democracy, no single party will hold the absolute majority in parliament following the May election. Former president Jacob Zuma’s comeback vehicle, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), rejected the results and threatened legal action after the party finished third. A video shared on social media purportedly shows boxes of uncounted votes in Zuma’s regional stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). But the claim is false: the boxes in the footage were accounted for by South Africa’s vote-tracking system. According to the final tallies, MK was the majority party in the voting district where the boxes with the counted ballots came from. 

“Uncounted sealed boxes discovered stored away. IEC, we didn’t stand in long queues for our votes to be hidden,” reads a post published on X on June 3, 2024.

A screenshot of the false post, taken on June 5, 2024

IEC is the acronym for the Electoral Commission of South Africa.

The post, liked more than 1,900 times, includes a video of white and blue boxes labelled “IEC” stacked on one another. 

The account that shared the footage often posts content supporting the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by leftist firebrand Julius Malema, whose party finished behind MK in fourth place.

High-stakes poll

South Africans went to the polls at the end of May to elect its 400-member National Assembly, leaving no outright winner for the first time since the advent of democracy in the country in 1994.

The African National Congress (ANC) of President Cyril Ramaphosa  won only 40 percent of the national vote, its lowest result ever. 

Meanwhile, his rival Zuma threatened legal action over unspecified claims of election irregularities and refused to recognise the outcome (archived here).

South African-based users widely shared the video on X, with this post racking up thousands of views before being deleted.

Some users rejected the claim that the video showed uncounted votes, but others said the ballots were thrown out because they were allegedly cast in favour of the MK, rivals to the ANC. 

Others questioned the election’s credibility.

“This is KZN. No one anticipated MK would perform this well that they would need to hide ballots,” wrote one user.

“IEC is ANC,” said another.

But the boxes of votes seen in the video were counted, according to South Africa’s official vote tracker. 

Vote tracking system

In the video, a number designating each voting district (VD) is visible on the side of every box.

A screenshot of the false post highlighting VD number (added by AFP), taken on June 5, 2024

Users can track the vote count using the VD number on the IEC website.

AFP Fact Check ran the VD number 43950595 through the system. 

The results showed the municipality where the votes were cast and how many each party received.

A screenshot from the IEC website, taken on June 5, 2024

In this example, the votes were cast in the Msunduzi municipality in the KwaZulu-Natal region. The MK party received more than 68 percent of the votes in the voting district.

AFP Fact Check verified five boxes in the footage with visible VD numbers and confirmed they were all accounted for on the IEC website.

Moreover, all five were from Msunduzi where the majority of people voted for MK.

IEC response

The IEC responded to the video via its official X account, explaining why the election materials were stored in boxes (archived here).

A screenshot of the IEC’s response on X, taken on June 5, 2024

“This video shows election materials storied and awaiting rollback from voting districts to the IEC provincial warehouse,” it said in a statement.

“This includes counted ballots, which are sealed inside ballot boxes.”.

According to the IEC, South African law mandates that all ballots “must be retained for a period of six months” and asked users not to “spread false information”.

Moreover, all party agents sign off on the vote results during South Africa’s elections.

Fair and free elections

Key stakeholders and international observers, including the heads of four African observer missions, have declared the South Africa elections “free, fair, and credible” (archived here).

The United States congratulated the country for a “successful” election (archived here), while a report from the Human Sciences Research Council found that voters “overwhelmingly” found the 2024 elections to be “free and fair”.


AFP Fact Check contacted the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), a Germany-based nonprofit accredited as an independent election observer (archived here).

“The IEC is a credible, highly professional organisation,” said Wayne Alexander, the head of the FNF’s liberal workshop in Cape Town. 

“There were some challenges - long lines, the IEC was underfunded, but they were mostly resolved, and the elections were largely free and free.”

Citing unfounded allegations of vote rigging, Zuma’s MK party said on June 10, 2024, that it plans to boycott the swearing-in ceremony for the new parliament.

In a statement on X, the MK party said it had requested “an interdict from the Constitutional Court to postpone the session” until its concerns have been addressed.

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