Pretoria - With less than a week to go to the 2011 municipal elections, the IEC began putting the final touches to its preparations for the polls by launching the national Results Operation Centre (ROC) in Pretoria on Wednesday.
While the ROC, which is located at the Tshwane Events Centre, was bustling with activity on Wednesday, all eyes will be on it on 18 May. It will be the hub for all operations on Election Day.
The ROC will become a focal point for media, political parties, IEC officials and other stakeholders as the election results come in, IEC Chief Electoral Officer, Advocate Pansy Tlakula, said.
TV and radio stations are expected to broadcast live from the ROC, while other media will work from offices there during the election period.
In addition, 12 political parties will be hosted at the ROC, where they will be able view the activities.
IEC commissioners and officials will relocate from their offices to the ROC until the final results are announced.
Tlakula explained that as result slips are captured at the municipal electoral offices across the country, the data will be transferred to the IEC computer systems through the national IT network infrastructure and stored in a central base.
State-of-the-art IT and GIS applications will rapidly make the data available for it to be communicated to political parties, the media and IEC staff at the centre in Pretoria and the provincial ROCs.
Data will be displayed on two huge projections screens at the centres.
Tlakula said one of the reasons for having a centre such as the ROC was because the credibility and transparency it brought to the results process.
"We hope that stakeholders such as political parties and the media, among others, will be able to visit the centre in the coming week so that they can bear testimony that indeed, we did everything possible to safeguard the freeness and fairness of these elections," she said.
IEC chairperson Dr Brigalia Bam, who officially launched the ROC, said the IEC was particularly pleased with the significant increase in the number of parties, voters and public participation in "electoral democracy".
"This increase signalled that our democracy was maturing. From our side we commit to do our utmost best in delivering this year's elections and to ensure that transparency, accountability, professionalism and independence characterise the running of these elections," Bam said.
Earlier, she introduced Judge Thami Makhanya as the new IEC Commissioner.
Makhanya was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to the position left vacant after the death of Judge Herbert Msimang.