Cape Town – Campaigning for South Africa's local government elections was cranked up a notch after President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday announced August 3 as voting day.
Zuma announced the late winter date for the highly contested poll less than 24 hours after surviving an opposition attempt at removing him as president through a parliamentary motion on Tuesday.
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“We urge all those who are eligible to vote [to] register to vote and those who have not checked their names to do so on Saturday and Sunday this weekend so that together we continue to reaffirm and deepen our democracy,” said Zuma.
Not missing a beat, the EFF said: "The EFF is ready to contest these elections and call on all communities, rural and urban to vote the EFF on the 3 August 2016."
The EFF is still basking in the glow of last week's Constitutional Court judgment that found that Zuma failed to uphold the Constitution in the way that he had handled the public protector's findings on money spent on his private Nkandla homestead.
The EFF's election spokesperson, Veronica Mente, urged voters to go to voting stations this weekend to make sure they were registered "to vote EFF".
Decline in municipalities
The FF Plus has already put up election posters in some areas and believes the "decline of municipalities in South Africa makes this year’s local government election of the utmost importance".
FF Plus leader, Pieter Mulder, said not only should voters check they were on the voters' roll but they should also make sure they were still registered in the right ward, as boundaries may have been redrawn.
"Too many voters have in the heat of the election decided to vote, only to find that they are not registered," said Mulder.
IFP head of elections, Albert Mncwango, said in a statement that the date was "good" for a number of reasons.
"An announcement of this nature being could not have come at such an opportune time, as this will encourage voters go out in numbers to register to vote and to check their details on 9 and 10 April 2016," Mncwango said.
IEC registration drive
The Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) is holding another voter registration drive this weekend to give people a change to register to be on the voters' roll or to check that their details are correct.
The DA, which proposed the motion to remove Zuma, said that the party would travel the length and breadth of the country to offer its message of change.
''Yesterday, the ANC showed us just how much they have changed. They are no longer the party of Nelson Mandela. We cannot sit back and let our country shift off the course that we set ourselves on in 1994,'' said DA leader, Mmusi Maimane.
The SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) hoped South Africans would come out in their numbers to vote.
But Sanco spokesperson, Jabu Mahlangu, said that setting the date made it even more important for the Constitutional Court to respond to the IEC's request that the matter relating to the inclusion of addresses on the voters' roll be resolved.
It must be done urgently so that it is not used as a reason to dispute elections, he added.
He also wanted to know whether by-elections would be permanently cancelled so that registered parties focus on their election campaigns.
On Monday the IEC said it had postponed all by-elections in the country because it was still not clear whether the absence of voters’ addresses would render the roll, and results of any by-elections, invalid.
Among those by-elections affected by the postponement were those scheduled for Wednesday.
This followed an Electoral Court ruling on February 23, postponing by-elections in Tlokwe that had been scheduled for the following day.
The Constitutional Court previously ruled that by-elections in the embattled municipality were not free and fair, and had to be rerun.
The IEC has approached the Constitutional Court to appeal the Electoral Court’s ruling.