Infighting a threat to poll

2010-04-22 00:00

THE Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) raised a concern that while political tension is on the decline in the country, internal party conflict might poses a new threat to next year’s local government elections.

Briefing the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, IEC chairperson Dr Brigalia Bam appealed to political parties to arrest internal rows as they might become a new challenge to the election process should parties’ candidates lists be disputed by factions.

Bam encouraged political parties to explore ways to resolve conflict through dialogue to avoid situations, such as has happened previously, in which the IEC ended up with two candidates’ lists from certain parties.

“Our past elections had been considered very successful because of co-operation from leadership, civil society, government and others.

“We are a model for many countries. At least 40 countries from different parts of the world came to South African to model our elections,” said Bam.

Bam praised KwaZulu-Natal voters for the low voter apathy rate, as the province posted 48,2% voter turnout during the last local government elections in 2006, and 79,7% during the national and provincial elections last year.

These were the highest figures among all nine provinces of the country, she said.

Bam also raised concern about a decrease in the number of voters due to death and other factors. For instance, in KwaZulu-Natal, during the last elections, there were 4,4 million voters, but that figure has decreased to 3,8 million voters to date.

Nationally, there were 23,1 million voters, but now there are 22,8 million.

Participation in next year’s elections is expected to improve.

The IEC has scheduled two registration weekends — one in November this year and another during next January.

The date for next year’s election is expected to be proclaimed by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka in March next year.

From the day the minister proclaims the election date, there will be no more voters’ roll registrations, said Bam.

In her presentation before the provincial legislature, KwaZulu-Natal IEC operations manager Ntombifuthi Masinga revealed that by September this year, there will be a final handover of ward maps to the IEC by the Municipal Demarcation Board.

Masinga’s presentation revealed that much election activity will occur around March next year.

This includes the signing of the provincial pledge, whereby candidates will sign a code of conduct regarding the nomination of candidates, and the printing of ballot papers.

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