IEC voting station. (Elmarie Jack, News24)
Cape Town - One hundred and fifty four parties are registered so far to contest municipal elections with registrations still coming in, the Electoral Commission told Parliament on Tuesday in a briefing on preparations for the August 3 local government elections.
"South Africa is a very active democracy," said Chief Electoral Officer Mosotho Moepya.
"Registrations of political parties happen every day in our country," said Moepya as excitement mounted over what is expected to be one of the country's most hotly contested elections.
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The Western Cape has the most registered parties at 61, followed by Limpopo with 30, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga at 14 each, Northern Cape with nine, eight in Gauteng, seven in the Eastern Cape, six in the Free State and five in the North West province.
The 2011 elections were contested by 121 parties.
The number of wards to be filled has gone up from 4277 to 4392.
26 million registered
Many of the arrangements that will officially start the election timetable are imminent, such as the proclamation of the August 3 date by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des Van Rooyen.
Local government MECs must also issue proclamations confirming the number of seats to be contested. So far five have been issued with four still outstanding.
Anyone intending to register to vote or to contest the elections must register urgently because once the election date is proclaimed the voters' roll is closed and no new registrations will be accepted.
"It breaks my heart to send somebody away because they have come after the cut off date," said Moepya.
Just over 26 million people (26 299 952) have registered to vote in the upcoming elections, up from around 18 million in 1999. On Monday all 13 political parties represented in Parliament signed the electoral code of conduct in which they pledged to ensure that candidates, supporters and party members abide by electoral rules.