Parties sign conduct code

2009-03-03 00:00

Political parties yesterday signed a pledge to uphold the electoral code of conduct ensuring that next month’s general election is free and fair. A large turnout of political party supporters, community and religious leaders witnessed the signing ceremony at the International Convention Centre in Durban yesterday.

The chairwoman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Dr Brigalia Bam, said the signing ceremonies held in all nine provinces are very important.

She described them as rituals that serve to remind voters that the legitimacy and credibility of a country’s multiparty democracy is established through free and fair elections.

Bam said there is a lot of interest in the election and that the IEC has received calls from overseas organisations that were last here in South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994 and want to return for the 2009 ballot.

Several people have told her that there is interest and concern in this election because SA’s democracy is seen as a beacon of hope on the African continent, she added.

The election must be peaceful, Bam told the parties. “If it is not, then the parties are not only letting South Africa but also the continent down. You will also be letting down the millions of young people who for the first time have registered as voters, in their numbers,” she said.

South African Police Commissioner, Fannie Masemola told political leaders to be examples to their supporters. He said they must make sure there is no double-booking of venues because this comes up often and makes the work of the police difficult.

Masemola said that while he understands that emotions are high, it still remains the responsibility of the police to make sure there is law and order.

“Yes, we will enforce the law, and everyone who wants to be there to cast their vote on 22 April better behave so that you don’t find yourself behind bars on election day. If you can’t behave, we are there to help you,” he said.

KwaZulu-Natal provincial electoral officer Mawethu Mosery said election time in the province is always challenging. He warned that the people who witnessed the pledge ceremony will hold the political parties accountable.

“If you digress from the code of conduct we will tell you privately, we will also tell you publicly,” he said.

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