SA's enthusiasm in election signifies mature democracy

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pretoria - The enthusiasm showed by South Africans ahead of Wednesday's fourth democratic election is a sign of a mature democracy.

President Kgalema Motlanthe, who visited the Independent Electoral Commission's Results Operation Centre on Tuesday, said the interest showed by both the country's young and old people was indicative of a vibrant democracy.

"We are of the view that the level of enthusiasm displayed during the campaigning and level of participation by young and old people indicates that our democracy is vibrant."

He said the country's democracy did not allow for the abuse of power and that those who said it was floundering would eat humble pie. "Our checks and balances are in place."

The President, who first visited the facility in 2004 when it was erected, commended the work done by the IEC in ensuring the country and South Africa was prepared to cast their votes.

He said the country was proud of the work done by the IEC and that state organs are ready to assist the IEC during the elections.

Mr Motlanthe welcomed the 333 international observers who have arrived in the country to witness the elections. He said he hoped the political parties contesting the elections would take pride in having participated in the polls.

IEC Chief Communication Officer Kate Bapela described his visit as a special occasion. "We couldn't ask for a more special gift. This moment is very special," she said.

IEC Chairperson Dr Brigalia Bam, who celebrated her birthday on Tuesday, said it was tradition for the head of state to visit the centre.

"It's a good omen that you're visiting the centre," said Dr Bam.

Over 23 million people have registered to vote. Already over 7 000 South Africans have already cast their votes. South Africans who can not physically go to voting booths such as pregnant women were on Monday and Tuesday able to cast their votes in a special vote.