Order for the election ballot papers drawn

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
By: 
Bathandwa Mbola

Johannesburg - The order of how the 26 political parties contesting the national elections will appear on the election ballot papers was decided at a draw in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The first and second parties listed on the ballot paper will be the Movement Democratic Party and the National Democratic Convention. The last party listed is the Minority Front.

The names were drawn randomly out of a large bowl by local singer Louise Carver at a ceremony hosted by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Johannesburg. The printing of ballot papers will begin on Thursday.

Chief Electoral Officer, Pansy Tlakula said the 26 parties would be contesting the national elections on 22 April, which is just 42 days away, while a total of 41 political parties will be contesting the elections at both national and provincial levels.

The full list of candidates will be published in newspapers on 16 March. The public will then have until 18 March to inform the IEC of objections to any of the candidates.

The leaders of various political parties also signed the Electoral Code of Conduct at the event.

The Electoral Code of Conduct is enacted as part of the Electoral Act of 1998 in order to create electoral conditions consistent with the values of the Constitution. It prohibits violence, defamatory statements and intimidation.

By making this pledge, political parties will ensure that participation in the political process is based on mutual respect, tolerance and the recognition of the rights of participating political parties.

Speaking at the draw, Ms Tlakula warned political parties to reinforce a culture of tolerance towards other parties contesting the elections.

"Contravention of the Electoral Act has serious consequences," said Ms Tlakul, adding that a person may fined up to R200 000 or sentenced to a term of imprisonment of between five and 10 years.

Chairperson of the IEC Brigalia Bam said the country had a duty of maintaining its good reputation of running free and fair elections.

She reminded parties of the important role they play in harnessing people to become involved in the democratic processes of the country.

"All our eyes are on you in this nation," said Ms Bam, adding that South Africa was a beacon of hope in running free and fair elections to the rest of the continent.

These particular elections are very special in many ways, we've never had so many parties before and the response also of the electorate is overwhelming and very encouraging to us."

There are 23 million South Africans registered to vote in the provincial and general elections. Political parties have also pledged to adhere to the electoral code of conduct.