We are ready - Zuma

Tuesday, May 17, 2011
By: 
Chris Bathembu

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has expressed his satisfaction on the Independent Electoral Commission's (IEC's) readiness to hold the country's fourth Local Government Elections tomorrow.

Zuma visited the IEC's Results Operation Centre in Pretoria a short while ago and said he was impressed with the level of technology used to capture the results. He spent about 20 minutes greeting staff at the centre, together with IEC Chairperson Brigalia Bam.

"I am very happy, it's an absolutely wonderful centre and we are confident the IEC is ready...it seems every time we hold an election in this country we raise the bar and it's the IEC that does that - so we are happy," he later told journalists.

The manner in which South Africa has held its elections in the past was an indication of "maturity" in its democracy, he said.

"South Africans should be happy about where we are today because for the first time, this time around there were less tensions as parties did their campaigns. There are no longer no go areas in our country and that is a good thing.

"Parties have learned to respect one another which is a good sign of maturity, very few places had experienced problems but overall it's been very good and South Africans should be happy about that," said Zuma.

In a statement earlier on Tuesday, Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi also said government was satisfied that all institutions involved in the preparations for the elections, including the police, are ready and that the environment is conducive for a free and fair election.

More than 23 million registered voters will have the opportunity on Wednesday to participate in electing their municipal representatives at more than 20 000 voting stations throughout the country.

The average turnout for municipal elections since 1994 has always been below 50 percent, but the IEC is hoping to attract more voters this time around. "We are confident that we will break the 50 percent margin judging by the level of interest in this election so we are happy," said the commission's Chief Electoral Officer Pansy Tlakula.

Analysts expect the African National Congress, which received 64.8 percent of the vote in the last municipal elections, to maintain its majority in most municipalities with the Democratic Alliance tipped to win some wards in predominantly black areas.

An ipso Markinor study conducted before the elections has shown that 52 percent of interviewed people said they will definitely vote for the ANC and a further 10 percent said they will perhaps vote for the ruling party. In the case of the DA, 17 percent said they will definitely vote for the DA, while a further 9 percent will perhaps vote the party.