IEC condemns political intolerance

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pretoria - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has strongly condemned the political intolerance which erupted in certain parts of the country in the recent weeks.

"The IEC wishes to strongly condemn the propagation and prevalence of political intolerance and violence that manifested itself in some parts of the country between supporters of political parties.

"The IEC also wishes to express the need for political parties to uphold the principles of a mature democracy by ensuring unhindered public participation during campaigning," the IEC said on Monday.

According to the Commission they are working hard to create and sustain an environment conducive to free and fair elections.

IEC chief communication officer, Kate Bapela said the value of peace and tolerance among political parties could not be overemphasised.

"Concerted efforts have been made by the IEC to communicate with the political parties in terms of managing expectations from one another in preparation for the elections.

"Intervention teams have been identified to be deployed to the various provinces in order to assist with on-site mediation and resolution of disputes," she said.

Ms Bapela said they had urged all political leaders, party cadres, organs of civil society and the media to work together in cultivating a spirit and environment of peace, security and tolerance as South Africa enters this exciting political season on the political calendar.

"Our message to all South Africans at large is that: we are a winning nation and have a track record of cooperation on matters of democracy development, let us commit to building peace," she said.

Meanwhile, all Home Affairs offices rendering civic services functions will be open for extended hours on the final voter registration weekend, 7 and 8 February from 8am to 5pm.

According to the department all eligible voters without IDs can visit the Home Affairs offices to apply for a Temporary Identity Certificate which can be issued in one day.

"The Temporary Identity Certificate is acceptable as a form of identity to register for elections," the department said.

The department has also urged people who have not collected their Identity Documents (IDs) to visit their Home Affairs offices to collect their IDs so that they can register this weekend.

"The call is especially relevant to people who applied for IDs between December 2007 and December 2008," the department said.

Presently, over 300 000 IDs remain uncollected at Home Affairs offices countrywide.

According to the department's communications chief director, Siobhan McCarthy, 200 000 of the uncollected pile of the IDs were new applications made in the last three months of 2008.

"The leading province with the highest number of uncollected IDs is KwaZulu-Natal with 76 000, followed by Gauteng with 68 000.

"Both the Eastern and Western Cape have each 30 000 uncollected IDs respectively," he said.

People who wish to check the status of their ID applications may call the Contact Centre on 0800 60 11 90.