IEC says the upcoming elections are to be one of the most contested

Johannesburg – Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo says the upcoming Local Government Elections will be one of the most contested in South Africa’s history.

Mambolo was speaking at the launch of the national Results Operation Centre (ROC) in Tshwane, ahead of Election Day on Monday, with special votes expected to be cast over the weekend.

The elections will see millions of South Africans going to vote for local government leaders who will represent them in the country’s 257 municipalities.

“On account of the number of candidates and political parties, this election is highly contested. There are 95 427 candidates who qualified to take part in this election. In the corresponding election in 2016, we just had over 60 000 who were contesting. 61 111 candidates will contest wards and 34 316 candidates will contest the proportional representation (PR) seats,” he said.

Mamabolo added that independent candidates competing in the elections had also increased by 42% to 1 546 from the previous local elections.

The most contested municipality is the City of Johannesburg with at least 56 parties on the PR candidates list.

At least 26 million South Africans are registered to vote in this year’s elections.

All systems go

Mamabolo said the commission has delivered all “logistical items necessary to conduct a credible process” to its sites ahead of the elections.

“In the last few days remaining, final picking and packing per voting station are being finalised. This operation is guided…in the logistics information system which is a bespoke business application of the commission.

“Predicated on the number of registered voters per voting station, the use of the logistics information system will alleviate shortages of supplies in the election value chain,” he said.

Mambolo assured the public that despite facing challenges related to factors including preparation time and difficulties related to COVID-19, the commission is expected to deliver the elections in line with the Constitutional requirements.

“[The] launch of this centre is not just an expression of our readiness to deliver a national event but one that bears significant Constitutional importance. We have sought to prepare for this election within the constraint of time and the constraints imposed by COVID-19.

“Yet, we are reasonably confident that all measures necessary have been put in place to realise an election of the standard contemplated in the Constitution,” he said.

New technology

Mamabolo announced that the customary “zip-zip” machines that have been part of the country’s voting traditions since 1998 have been replaced by enhanced devices.

Mambolo said the new devices are expected to strengthen controls in the voting process, “while improving efficiency” in the electoral process.

“We have acquired voter management devices…[which] will be used to record the opening and closing of stations, monitor the ballot paper usage as well as capture addresses of those 1.2 million residual voters for whom we still do not have an address,” he said.

Ballot papers

Turning to ballot papers, Mamabolo said the commission had produced the ballot paper in the “record shortest possible time”.

“Ballot papers are central to the determination of the will of the voter. Therefore, no credible election is possible without an accurate ballot. The whole ballot production process was undertaken in 18 days and the last ballots will be delivered to municipalities on Thursday,” he said.


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