Cape Town - This year's municipal elections are the most difficult South Africa has ever experienced, Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) vice chairperson Terry Tselane said on Friday.
The IEC had experienced problems with its voters’ roll and there had been political killings, he said at the launch of the Western Cape’s election results centre.
But it was the intra-party conflict that had caught the IEC unawares. There was not even mention of intra-party conflict in the Electoral Code of Conduct, he said. It needed to be reviewed to address this.
“It is one of the most serious conflicts that we have experienced in the history of our elections and in the history of the country,” he said.
He assured guests at the opening of the Century City conference centre, which would be the Western Cape IEC’s nerve centre for the coming days, that they would deliver free and fair elections.
Provincial electoral officer Courtney Sampson warned that after the 3 August election, there would be unhappy people.
“When I say we are going to do our best, I'm afraid we are going to disappoint a lot of people. There are only 914 seats available for 7 869 candidates,” he said.
Twelve conflict management mediation panellists would be on hand, and an Electoral Code of Conduct observer mission if things went awry. He called on party representatives to keep an eye on their own supporters, not just those of other parties.
Electoral operations manager Derrick Marco said the elections would start with special votes on Monday and Tuesday. Over 53 000 people had registered for special votes.
The province had one metro, 25 local municipalities, five district municipalities, and 402 wards.
A total of 203 parties would be contesting nationally, and 77 in the Western Cape.
The province would have the biggest ballot paper to accommodate all the parties and would need extra ballot papers for this in the metro.
There would be 1586 voting stations across the province, and 51 temporary voting stations.
There was potential for gang-related violence and taxi violence as a disrupting factor, and some labour unrest.
“One of the concerns we have now is the shortage of fuel,” he said, referring to a strike by refinery workers.
The IEC had increased its staff from 50 to 17 000 in the province for the voting period. They had been in training since June. IEC officials and police had been meeting every morning.
So far, the National Freedom Party had been prevented from contesting after it failed to pay its deposit to the IEC on time. On Friday, the Electoral Court disqualified EFF Tshwane ward councillor candidate Thabo Mabotja from contesting the elections after he called for white people to be “hacked and killed” in a post he put on Facebook.
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko on Wednesday said 14 people had been arrested for politically-motivated murders countrywide – the majority in KwaZulu-Natal.
A parliamentary task team had been probing the killings, the most recent being that of an ANC ward councillor in Port Elizabeth, who was shot dead on Tuesday evening.
But the election continues, and on Monday party representatives would arrive at the centre for a crash course on the computer system and the after that it would be all systems go.
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