Only days to highly contested municipal elections

The by-elections will be held on March 1st 2017 in Thaba Nchu.

Criminal cases are mounting as political parties are heating up campaign trials for the 2016 Municipal Elections. Several cases – including malicious damage to property and intimidation against members of political parties, municipalities and municipality officials – have been registered with the police. This is despite Free State Police and Roads and Transport MEC, Butana Komphela, saying no cases were laid.
Political parties indicated that they had reported several cases to the police. A record number of political parties – 27 compared to 18 that were contesting in the 2011 Municipal Elections – have entered the election ring in the Free State. A big chunk of these parties are going to contest in the Mangaung Metro alone. The Pan Africanist Movement is going to top the proportional representation ballot papers in all municipalities where it is contesting in the 2016 Municipal Elections after it was randomly drawn by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). All other parties contesting in each municipal area will then follow alphabetically. Residents in all municipal areas – except for Metro municipalities – are going to receive three ballot papers. The white/grey one to vote for a councillor of your ward in your local municipality, a yellow one to vote for proportional representation in the same municipality and a green ballot paper for the proportional representation on district municipal level.
Residents in Mangaung Metro will, however, only receive two ballot papers, a white/grey one and a yellow one. The IEC has also received a record number of applications for special votes. A total of 740 000 voters have applied to cast their vote before the official election date on August 3. Special votes are going to take place over two days from August 1. Voting stations will be open from 8 o’clock in the morning (8am) to five o’clock in the afternoon (5pm). This is while stations are expected to be open from 7 o’clock in the morning until 7 o’clock in the evening on election day. The IEC said the number of applications for special votes is more than three times the total received in 2011 nationally. A total of 24 327 voters are going to cast their votes in the comfort of their homes in the Free State. Another 31 415 registered voters are expected to cast their special vote at voting stations across the province. Registered voters who cannot travel to their voting station because they are physically infirm, disabled or pregnant or cannot vote at their voting station on election day, can do so beforehand.
The IEC also announced that because of the record number of political parties and candidates contesting the 2016 Municipal Elections, it had to enlarge the ballot papers for blind and visually impaired voters. Spokesperson, Kate Bapela, says in collaboration with Blind South Africa and the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) they have developed a special new 32-window cardboard ballot template to accommodate all candidates. – Cathy Dlodlo & Katleho Morapela