‘Dramatic’ drop in election gripes

2011-05-16 10:47

There has been a “huge drop” in the number of complaints to the Independent Electoral Commission in KwaZulu-Natal during campaigns for this week’s local government elections, the commission said today.

“During the 2006 elections we received 200 complaints, and for this year’s elections we received only 23 complaints. That is a huge drop,” the province’s commission chief Mawethu Mosery said.

Of the 23 complaints, 15 were for destroying or removing campaign posters, and the rest for issues relating to disruption of campaigns.

Mosery attributed the drop to growing levels of political tolerance in the province, known for ANC-IFP clashes during elections since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

He was happy with the improvement.

“For the past six weeks we have not lost a life because of election campaigns. We are better now, but there are still incidents that make us uncomfortable.”

Five people had been killed in attacks thought to be politically motivated since the start of campaigning in August last year. The victims were all political leaders.

National police commissioner General Bheki Cele told journalists in KwaDukuza last week he was impressed with the level of tolerance in the province.

Scores of officers would be deployed to prevent disruptions and violence. Durban hostels, Umsinga, Nongoma and Estcourt were among the potential hotspots, he said.

Mosery said he was happy with preparations for the elections.

“I am very happy and very comfortable.”

There are 4.6 million registered voters in KwaZulu-Natal, compared to 3.8 million for the 2006 local government elections.

Mawethu said voter turnout would depend on whether campaigns and manifestos had appealed to people.

“Another issue that can affect the voter turnout is laziness. Other people don’t vote because they fail to get transport to areas where they are supposed to vote.”

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