IEC ready to go

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pretoria - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it's all systems go ahead of South Africa's fourth Local Government Elections which take place on Wednesday.

Chief Electoral Officer, Advocate Pansy Tlakula, addressed journalists in Pretoria on Monday where she also confirmed that officials conducting special votes did not experience major challenges.

The state of the art Results Operation Centre (ROC), used during the 2009 national elections, also appears to be ready for Wednesday with the top 12 political parties displayed on the electronic results screen. As in the past, journalists who will be working from the centre had been allocated offices to cover the results as they come in from Wednesday.

Up to 239 000 people applied for special voting on Monday at voting stations and different institutions across the country.

"We are ready and today we began a process of a very successful special vote session and we are confident come Wednesday South Africans will heed our call and exercise their right to vote in this election," said Tlakula.

She confirmed that former President Nelson Mandela cast his vote at his Houghton Home a short while ago. "Yes we have paid him a visit in his home and my understanding is that he voted at 12pm," she said.

There were reports that at some stations there were no envelopes to place the votes but officials said these had been attended to.

A few protest marches were also reported in Limpopo and the Free State but Tlakula said these will not affect voting on Wednesday. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and his National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele announced last week that more than 39 000 police officers will be deployed at voting stations in all provinces to monitor any violent incidents.

On Monday, Tlakula said the IEC was happy with security at its voting stations and the so-called hot spots.

"We all have an obligation to make sure that voting takes place in a peaceful environment and we are confident South Africans will heed this call and yes police will be on standby to monitor situations."

Conflict management committees will also be on standby at different voting stations to deal with issues raised by political parties. Parties and the public can also lodge objections to the IEC within 48 hours after the elections and these will be investigated up to the Electoral Court if necessary.

This years' local election is said to be the most contested since 1994 and analysts say people were likely to come out in numbers to make their choices following rolling service delivery protests in most parts of the country.

The IEC said about 70.5 million ballot papers had been printed to be distributed to voting stations across the country.

Weather focasters are predicting rain for Gauteng on Wednesday but the IEC said it hoped this would not have an adverse impact on the turn out should it rain on Wednesday.

"We are worried about the weather and what it could do but as in all instances we have made contingency plans for any eventuality. But we are hopeful that people will go out and exercise their right to vote and they must remember they won't melt event if it rains".