Results ‘could trigger violence’

2009-04-20 00:00

Cape Town — The Election Monitoring Network has voiced concern that the announcement of the election results could trigger violence in KwaZulu-Natal and yesterday called for security measures to remain in place in the province after the results of the poll are announced.

The call comes amid allegations that traditional leaders in KZN and other provinces have been trying to ensure that they decide for their subjects how they should vote, as well as ongoing reports that party activists are using resources and connections to government service providers to deny poor voters their right to vote freely.

The network said it has noted two election-related deaths in the province this month.

“Party leaders need to work more actively to prevent these attacks on the right to campaign freely, and vigilance will be needed to ensure they do not trigger violence in the last day of the campaign and after results are announced,” said Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at a media conference at Bishopscourt yesterday.

Makgoba said that despite the fears for KZN, the network is confident that conditions are in place for a free and fair election tomorrow.

“Events since our last report [last month] have confirmed our view that the most competitive election in South Africa’s history has been accompanied by much lower levels of political violence and intolerance than might have been expected. Thus far, South Africa has proved far readier for vigorous political contest than we might have hoped, given that political competition is so new to our country …” he said.

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