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Elections: Residents’ safety a priority for metro

Experts say that safety and security around the elections and on Election Day is not a given. The IEC however refuses to be intimidated by insinations of violence.

Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) CEO Sy Mamabolo has warned political parties threatening to disrupt the upcoming elections.

Mamabolo said at the March meeting of the National Press Club that the commission would carry out its duties without fear of intimidation.

“Honestly, the commission is not intimidated by the insinuation of violence against South Africans during the elections. We are naturally concerned about the safety of all citizens and that nothing should happen to them on Election Day, but the commission is not threatened in any way, ” Mamabolo said.

He assured South Africans that the commission will live up to the exact specifications of its code of conduct.

He said South Africa reached an historic milestone when 27 811 912 eligible citizens – 55.24% female and 44.76% male – registered to vote on May 29.

During the national elections in 2021, 26 204 579 were registered.

MMC for safety and security Grandi Theunissen said before and on May 29, all law enforcement agencies in the metro will collectively manage safety and security 24/7.

Emergency services will also be available before, during and after Election Day.

“Both the metro police and SAPS teams will be responsible for the shipment and distribution of safety material from distribution centres to voting stations.

These two institutions will also make home visits to voters performing special votes. They will also take care of the safety around the delivery of other special votes.

These operations include the delivery and collection of ballot papers after the elections and returning them to voting stations, where they will be counted,” said Theunissen.

He assured Pretoria residents that the Tshwane department of safety and security would tackle such joint operations with commitment.

“Our full staff component will carry out our safety mandate as the metro by still doing day to day law enforcement, but also the safety duties allocated to us. Our department reports to the South African police during the elections,” said Theunissen.

“The metro police are committed to seeing to it that the election process takes place in a safe environment.”

He said preventive measures will be taken to limit and address the possibility of threats and risks.

He said the metro will also support the commission’s operations in the execution of their duties in a supplementary role.

“Thorough safety and security planning during the elections is already in place, based on our past experience. Role players in the security community in the metro have already agreed upon this,” Theunissen said.

Political commentator and professor in political science at Unisa Dirk Kotze said he does not anticipate that the ordinary voter will be exposed to violence at the ballot box on the day of the elections.

“I expect that voters will generally be safe at most places on Election Day. Although there have been individual and isolated incidences of violence in South African in the past, it is not a general trend,” Kotze said.

Prof. Dirk Kotze

However, he doesn’t believe it’s impossible that there will be certain cases of violence.

“Cases at the ballot box and beforehand may occur at locations where there is especially very intense competition between parties, such as where the ANC and MK oppose each other,” Kotze said.

He said however that where there was a possibility of violence before Election Day in the past, could now be the opposite.

“There are parties like MK that have already indicated that they don’t believe the IEC is impartial. If these parties receive much fewer votes during the elections as has been indicated in the opinion polls, they could feel that the process has worked against them. Such parties may reject the results, which will lead to problematic consequences for the country,” said Kotze.

He however warned that the Electoral Court verdict in the case the ANC brought against the MK party and the IEC, may lead to incidents of violence before the elections if the verdict is not in favour of former president Jacob Zuma’s MK party.

– Click here for more election info about May 29: https://www.elections.org.za/pw/voter/voter-education

– Click here to find your polling station: https://tinyurl.com/328km8wy

– Call the IEC helpline at Skakel 0800 11 8000 for more info.

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