Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic on political parties ahead of the November local government elections, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on Wednesday said it was ready to contest the polls.
The IFP on Wednesday briefed the media in Durban on the party’s state of preparedness for the upcoming elections on 1 November.
The party’s national campaign committee chairperson, Narend Singh, said the IFP would be fielding in total 2,570 councillor candidates, of which 1,376 are ward candidates and 1,192 are proportional representation (PR) candidates in 105 municipalities nationwide.
Singh said the IFP “respectfully” disagreed with the recent Constitutional Court (ConCourt) judgment on the reopening of the candidate nomination process by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
“The IFP feels this judgment is regrettable but will abide by the court’s decision. We will also closely monitor the elections to ensure that they are, in fact, free and fair,” he said in a statement.
This follows the dismissal on Monday of the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) urgent application to declare the IEC’s decision unlawful and invalid. The DA argued the IEC reopened the registrations to favour the ANC after it missed last month’s deadline to submit candidates in several municipalities.
The ConCourt ruled that the IEC was statutorily empowered to reopen the submission of councillor candidates. The DA’s application for direct access was granted by the CourtCourt, but the application was dismissed with no costs order.
Singh said the IFP was also concerned about reports of election-related scuffles between supporters of various political parties.
At the weekend, there was an attempt by some ANC members in Dambuza, KwaZulu-Natal, to prevent EFF leader Julius Malema and his entourage from inspecting a voting station.
“The IFP would like to call for calm, and for all South Africans to respect their fellow citizens’ constitutional right to vote, and to participate in the activities of a political party of their choosing,” Singh said.
He added that the IFP expected the IEC to rise to the challenge of delivering elections that are free and fair as well as free of violence or intimidation.
Although the IFP supported the IEC’s ConCourt bid to postpone the elections to February 2022 due to concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic, the party said it was still worried about the health and safety of all South Africans.
“We commit to adhering to all Covid-19 health and safety precautions as we campaign, as well as on election day. We would like to remind the IEC to do the same, as well as our fellow political parties and independent candidates,” Singh said.
The IFP will launch its election manifesto on 30 September.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe