Upcoming elections to celebrate Madiba’s legacy

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Benoni - South Africans should participate in the upcoming General Elections to celebrate the legacy of the late former President Nelson Mandela, says Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson Advocate Pansy Tlakula.

The IEC chair was speaking after signing a pledge with representatives of farmers and farmworkers unions in Benoni, East of Johannesburg, on Wednesday.

“We will be holding these elections after the passing away of the founding father of our democracy, Nelson Mandela (who passed away on December 5, 2013).

“With these elections, we need to celebrate his legacy and we have to ensure that we give the message out to the world, that indeed South Africa is a wonderful country that continues to take our rightful place in the community of nations.

“This year’s elections are important elections in the history of our country, as we will be celebrating our 20th year of democracy and we have to do so with enthusiasm. We have to ensure that all of us relive the magic of 1994. We must also ensure that the conditions under which the upcoming elections will be held are conducive to producing free, fair, credible and peaceful elections.”

Through signing the pledge, the farming community, especially farmers, have committed themselves to allow the IEC staff reasonable access to their farms for the purposes of conducting voter registration; allow farm workers to vote for the political party of their choice; allow workers time off to visit the IEC’s voting stations to register as well as allowing them to visit the voting stations on voting day to mention but a few. 

According to Tlakula, in the past they had a few isolated complaints of farm workers who were not given time off to visit voting stations.

However, she said currently the IEC was enjoying a very constructive relationship with farmers in the country, adding that “our engagement with them is constant through our civic education programme”.

Advocate Tlakula further appealed to the nation to help them encourage young South Africans between the ages of 18 and 25 to register for the upcoming General Elections in their numbers.

The President of the African Farmers’ Association of South Africa (AFASA), Mike Mlengana, said: “We want to assure that we are going to encourage our members to allow their workers time off to register and vote.

“As AFASA, you will never hear us saying that we are not going to vote and we are clear to our members that they should refrain from suppressing their workers by denying them the right to exercise their democratic right to vote for their preferred political party.”

Representing Agri SA, Elize van der Westhuizen said: “Our members are going to allow workers to register and vote. We will also allow the IEC reasonable access to the farms to conduct voter registration, and we will also allow workers to attend political rallies since we value the importance of free and fair elections.”

Transvaal Agricultural Union SA (TAU) regional manager, Lynnette du Plessis, said: “We stand for free and fair elections, where people are allowed to vote without being intimidated. We’ve already started to encourage our members to allow their workers to go and register and vote in the upcoming elections.”

Deputy Secretary of the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU), Moleko Phakedi, called on farmers to allow IEC staff to conduct its work in the farming area without any difficulties.

“We are saying to farmers, please allow your workers to attend campaigns of their respective political parties in your farming area in the spirit of Mandela of reconciliation and reaching out to one another,” he said.

The second and final round of voter registration is set for the weekend of February 8 and 9. - SAnews.gov.za

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