Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

More than 200 political parties to contest municipal elections

The Electoral Commission says 23,151 voting stations will open on 17 and 18 July for the voter registration weekend.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says more than 200 political parties will contest the 2021 municipal elections.

On Wednesday morning, the IEC unveiled its campaign to raise awareness among the South African electorate and all stakeholders about the coming elections.

Speaking at the virtual briefing, IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said the commission was ready to deliver free and fair elections amid concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that the Constitution did not allow for a postponement.

READ MORE: ANC leads parties in by-elections ahead of local polls in October

“The Constitution provides two fundamental guidelines on elections. Firstly, it requires that elections must be free and fair. Secondly, it sets a maximum term of office of five years for legislators and municipal council. The Constitution also allows 90 days from the expiry of the term to conduct elections,” he said.

Mashinini said the commission was aware of the threat posed by Covid-10 in the elections.

“The commission is literally walking on a tight rope. On one side is that tyranny of elections becoming a super-spreader event leading to further loss of human life. On the other side it’s the tyranny of the failure to adhere to the dictates of our Constitution leading to democratic backslide and setting a precedent for the future,” he said.

23,000 voting stations

IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo said the elections were on track despite delays caused by Covid-19.

Mamabolo said the Municipal Demarcation Board had submitted the final list of wards, adding that the total ward count for this election is 4,468.

This is an increase of 76 wards compared to 2016. This hand over allowed the commission to begin its final preparations in earnest,” he said.

ALSO READ: Will local government elections be delayed?

He  said 23,151 voting stations would open on 17 and 18 July, which is the voter registration weekend.

“This is 539 more voting stations than in 2016 and represents an increase of 2.3%,” he said.

Mamabolo said the commission anticipates more than 200 political parties and over 65,000 candidate will contest the elections.

He further said there were more than 1.2 million people on the voters roll with no addresses.

Covid-19 concerns

In April, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced 27 October as the date for the local government elections, urging eligible and especially first-time voters to ensure they were registered.

Although some opposition parties, such as the EFF want the elections postponed, Ramaphosa said they would go ahead this year as scheduled.

READ MORE: EFF concerned about further restrictions on gatherings ahead of local government elections

The EFF cited the inability to campaign due to Covid-19 restrictions as the reason behind its call for a postponement.

The IEC appointed former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke to lead a process to decide whether the country can hold free and fair elections in the present circumstances.

Elections budget

Last month, the IEC said R1.9 billion had been budgeted to cover the cost of the 2021 local government elections after Mamabolo conceded South Africa’s fiscal climate and battered economy had led to drastic cuts in commission operations amounting to R663 million.

The 2021-22 budget will see 27% spent on electoral operations, staff expansion and events.

Some 10% of the budget will be spent on registration, voting materials, warehousing and distribution costs, while 4% has been allocated to communication and media.

Additional information by Brian Sokutu and Neo Thale

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