National 28.7.2016 05:00 am

IEC: Nothing will undermine polls

Free and fair elections are built on pyramid of integrity, says Mashinini.

‘Now is the time for the 26.3 million voters to have their say in this election and in the future they choose for their communities, cities and metros. The future is in your hands.”

These were the words of the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Glen Mashinini, during the launch of the national results operation centre at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria West yesterday.

Mashinini said campaigning for next week’s elections had been robust, vigorous and colourful in the history of democratic South Africa, but they were working closely with security structures to ensure a free and fair election in a safe environment.

“We have seen isolated incidents of violence, intimidation and attempts to make some areas no-go zones for both election officials and politicians.

“We will not and cannot allow aggrieved individuals and groups to undermine what we, as a country, fought for and what so many in the past gave their lives for.”

He assured South Africans the IEC was working closely with security structures to ensure voting proceeds safely and securely.

“Next week’s municipal elections are gearing up to be one of the more groundbreaking variety that our country last experienced 22 years ago,” Mashinini said.

Mashinini reminded South Africans that each election was a watershed moment in a country and each was a turning point in the political and social trajectory of a country.

“The signs are there to see,” he said. There is a building sense of excitement, accompanied by a measure of anxiety and trepidation.

“Our democracy is evolving and growing and we, as stakeholders in electoral democracy, must evolve and grow with it.”

He said free and fair elections were built on a pyramid of integrity and the bedrock of this pyramid was the constitution, which set the nation as one sovereign democratic state, founded on human dignity, nonracialism, supremacy and universal adult suffrage.

Mashinini said the one key to ensuring free and fair elections was making sure each and every aspect of the voting, counting and results process was transparent.

He said all parties were allowed two agents at the voting stations to ensure that each aspect of this process was conducted correctly, fairly and in terms of the law. These agents would oversee each step of the process.

Mashinini assured South Africans that it was impossible for any individual to change the results without it being apparent to all stakeholders.

He praised former IEC chairs Judge Johann Kriegler and Brigalia Bam, who also attended the launch, for the groundwork they had laid and for choosing dedicated and committed staff who were still with the IEC.

Meanwhile, chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya has described the August 3 local government elections as “enormous” – and three times bigger than that of the 2011 elections.

“This is a record-breaking election and we are ready for it.

“We have been planning this election for two years. We are ready,” he told reporters during the launch of the national results operation centre.

Moepya said preparing for these record-breaking elections had presented the IEC with its biggest challenges ever. They also had a record with the largest ballot paper: an A3-sized RPR paper to accommodate a record 37 parties contesting the Cape Town metro.

“All election materials are ready at provincial warehouses for distribution this week to municipalities,” Moepya said.

Important election statistics

  • 26.3 million registered voters
  • 740 000 special vote applications
  • 22 612 voting stations
  • 204 political parties – 68% more than 2011
  • 63 654 candidates, who will compete for 9 301 councillor positions
  • 855 independent candidates
  • 4 649 unique ballots
  • 153 000 ballot boxes
  • 133 000 voting booths
  • 1.8 million A4 pages of the voters’ roll
  • 60 tons of stationery
  • 580 000 pens
  • 45 000 large banners to mark the voting stations
  • 73.9 million ballot papers

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