Cabinet calls on South Africans to vote in General Elections

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pretoria - Cabinet has called on all South Africans to come out in their millions to vote on 22 April in the country's fourth democratic elections.

Briefing the media on Thursday, Government Spokesperson Themba Maseko said going to the polls would "strengthen" the country's democracy.

Mr Maseko warned that no intimidation or violence will be tolerated during the elections.

"Government calls on everyone not to allow any attempt to prevent free, fair and peaceful elections in every corner of our country. No amount of intimidation and or violence will be tolerated," he told the media.

He assured the public that security personnel will be ready to deal with anyone attempting to prevent South Africans from exercising their "hard earned right to vote."

More than 23 million people have registered to vote, including the 16 240 registered South Africans abroad who voted yesterday.

The IEC was confident about Wednesday's voting at several missions abroad, saying "things went fantastically".

The IEC said ballot papers from Wednesday's overseas vote will be transported to South Africa and tallied after next week's mains polls.

Over 16 000 South Africans lined up to exercise their right to cast their ballots in a number of countries across the globe, including Australia, America, Fiji, Eritrea, Britain and Sweden.

The largest overseas polling station was at South Africa House in London with over 7 000 registered voters, followed by Canberra, Australia, with 1 230 registered voters. Dubai in the United Arab Emirates totalled 900 and Wellington, New Zealand had 410 registered voters.

The IEC has set up a two envelope system to ensure both the secrecy and legitimacy of votes cast abroad.

As ballots were cast at missions across the world they were placed in an unmarked envelope and sealed.

This unmarked envelope was then placed into another envelope with the voter's name, identity number and voter district number. Those were then put into a ballot box which was sealed.

These boxes will be opened on Election Day, 22 April, and the details on the marked envelope will be checked against the voters roll.

If there are no irregularities the unmarked envelope will be taken out and placed into the ballot box and counted.

The IEC has also put all the necessary building blocks in place to ensure that it conducts the vote in a transparent and impartial way.

This will include allowing party representatives to be present at voting stations, to witness the counting of the ballots, and the results being verified by independent auditors.

Meanwhile, preparations for the inauguration of the next president are at advanced stage, said Mr Maseko.

He announced that the inauguration was set to take place on Saturday, 9 May at the Union Buildings.

"Heads of State and Government have been invited to join the nation in witnessing and celebrating the inauguration of fourth democratically elected President of the Republic," he said.

Members of the public can be part of the ceremony at the Union Building lawns, which will be held under the theme 'Together, celebrating a vibrant democracy and building a better life for all'.