IEC results centre opens for General Elections

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pretoria - Its all systems go for a free and fair election with the opening of the Independent Electoral Commission's (IEC) Results Operation Centre (ROC) on Wednesday.

South Africans go to the polls on 22 April for the fourth general elections since the advent of the country's democracy in 1994.

Addressing international election observers, representatives of various political parties and reporters at the opening of the ROC, IEC Chairperson, Dr Brigalia Bam said: "We (IEC) are ready to deliver on our mandate of free and fair elections."

The ROC will give the media, election observers and political party representatives' access to the latest information as it comes from the polling stations.

It will serve as the central management point for operational and electoral issues and a focal point for political parties, government, business leaders and the media to gather during the voting, counting and results phases of the elections.

The Centre will operate 24 hours on Election Day. It will be open from 7am on 22 April until late in the evening of 23 April, when it is expected that the majority of election results will be in.

Dr Bam said the IEC views the centre as a hub of social cohesion or nerve centre where all role players assemble at each national election to collaborate.

Since the country's first democracy, political tolerance was gradually improving and the IEC was proud that all players were embracing the multi-party system, Dr Bam said.

She assured that the upcoming elections would be free of intimidation and any form of violence.

The IEC, she said, expected a high number of young voters during this election.

"The increase in the number of young voters will no doubt boost the turn out. Already we are experiencing, high interest and enthusiasm among voters, which is a good sign for our democracy," she said.

A total of 41 political parties will contest the General Elections, an increase of 20 as compared to the 21 parties that participated in the 2004 poll.

More than 23 million people have registered to vote, including the 16 240 registered South Africans abroad who are streaming in at South African embassies today.