IEC ready for local elections

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cape Town - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has indicated that it is ready for the upcoming local government elections on 18 May.

IEC chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula made presentations on their state of preparations before Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on Tuesday.

She said 23.6 million people are registered to vote in the 2 859 voting stations across the country, and 200 000 IEC officials would be trained to ensure that the elections were free and fair.

Political parties have been given up until 5pm on Friday, 25 March to submit their list of candidates.

The commission would look at the compliance of the candidates on 4 April, and give those parties who have not met the compliance requirements to do so by 8 April.

About 170 parties had registered, she said, highlighting that only around 20 would participate in the elections.

Special voting for people such as those with disabilities and police officers has been penciled in for 16 and 17 May.

Application for special votes, which should be done in the municipality where one is registered, would be carried out between 15 April and 3 May.

No application would be allowed on the day of voting, and those who might be sick on the main day of voting would miss out.

Tlakula said some of the challenges they anticipated included politicians who would "impose their personalities" at voting stations and the submission of wrong lists.

In the Western Cape, their particular challenge would be the weather as it was focast to be raining, but contingency plans would be put in place, she said.

Low voter turn out was also set to be another challenge, with the last local municipal elections have in 2006 having registered a 48.4 percent turnout.

The general voting day was going to start at 7am until 7pm, said Tlakula, with ballot counting likely to be done at voting centres.

Questioned on running out of ballot papers, she said that it was not going to happen and it had not happened in the 2009 provincial and national elections.

"We did not run of out ballot papers," she said, adding that they had a problem with distribution and at the end of the elections, they had five million extra ballot papers.

Her presentation was largely welcomed by the committee, with its chairperson Lechesa Tsenoli saying he and his team would conduct an oversight visit in the Northern Cape and Free State provinces between 27 May and 1 April.