IEC ‘surging ahead’ with elections prep as parties pledge to play nice

IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini (podium) speaking at the signing of the Electoral Code of Conduct at Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg. PHOTO: @IECSOUTHAFRICA/TWITTER

The Electoral Code of Conduct, signed by parties, is aimed at creating a climate of tolerance, free political campaigning and open public debate.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Friday said it was more than ready to deliver the upcoming local government elections with “an unswerving consistency” and excellence as it had done since the advent of the country’s democracy, reports The Citizen.

“As our nation is battling with the devastation caused by Covid-19 to our economy and lives, the commission and its very committed staff members remain hard at work to ensure these elections are delivered safely in fulfilment of our constitutional mandate,” said IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini.

Mashinini was speaking at a ceremony on the signing of the Electoral Code of Conduct by political parties contesting the upcoming municipal elections, scheduled for 1 November. The event was held at Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg.

Mashinini said despite the IEC’s unsuccessful application to the Constitutional Court to postpone the elections to February 2022 due to the pandemic, the commission had – in a short period of time – conducted a final voter registration weekend and applications for special votes were currently open, closing on 4 October.

Mashinini said the IEC was now “surging ahead” with preparations for the elections that would be contested by more than 300 parties.

“The chief electoral officer has now certified the voters’ roll on 26 September and our voters’ rolls contains the names of 26.2 million voters,” he said.

Importance of Electoral Code of Conduct

The Electoral Code of Conduct, part of the Electoral Act, is aimed at creating a climate of tolerance, free political campaigning and open public debate.

The code prohibits parties, among others, from using language which provokes violence, intimidating candidates or voters, and publishing false information about other candidates or parties.

Mashinini said political parties, party agents and candidates had the responsibility of ensuring that they also let the
public know about the code as part of efforts to educate voters about the importance of free and fair elections.

“It requires a deep sense of political leadership because its observance speaks to who we are as democrats but it also speaks to who were are individually and collectively as protagonists of an orderly conduct of our public affairs,” he said.

“As leaders here represented we should not fail our fellow compatriots on the contrary we should be torchbearers
leading the country to a vision of peace and tranquillity.”

Mashinini also hailed the IEC’s introduction of the voter management devices (VMD), saying it had increased the speed of processing of applications.

“Approved applications already have their addresses captured. Previously, it would have taken months to capture address details of voters. This is a major step in the management of our electoral processes.”

Mashinini reminded parties, independent candidates and voters to observe Covid-19 rules, regulations and protocols during the election season.

Thapelo Lekabe