THE Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Umvoti confirmed its state of readiness for the by-election taking place in Ward 7 today. Three voting stations will be open with IEC Outreach and Training Officer Nonhlakanipho Dlungwana saying that the stations will be open from 7 am until 9 pm to allow eligible voters to cast their votes. The four political parties contesting; the ANC, EFF, NFP and IFP; signed an Electoral Code of Conduct last week. The code aims to promote “conditions that are conducive to free and fair elections and that create a climate of tolerance, free political campaigning and open public debate.” According to the records of the IEC, a total number of 5 360 registered voters will cast their votes in the three voting stations today. The old Nhlalakahle Community Hall has a total number of 2 450 voters; Buhlebuyeza Secondary School has 1 605 and Tholinhlanhla Primary 1 305 voters. Voting stations opened for special votes on Tuesday, August 20. Dlungwana said: “We had 276 special votes [in this by-election]. Our officers visited 182 residents who applied for special votes at their homes, and 94 voted at the voting stations. We urge residents in Ward 7 to come out in their numbers to vote. “To qualify to vote, residents need to be in possession of a valid ID, smart card ID or a temporal ID document. On the day of the by-election, our officers will also be verifying home addresses of voters. Those voters with addresses that do not appear on the voters’ roll will be asked to fill out a form. “We appeal to the youth in Ward 7 to use this opportunity to vote.” The party candidates contesting in these by-elections are Sfiso Mpanza (IFP), Ntombi Mokoena (ANC), Godfrey Mavundla (NFP), and Ntokozo Zulu (EFF). The position of the ward councillor became vacant after the former councillor, Vukani Sibisi, resigned earlier this year. Since then the ward has subject to brewing factionalism and violent protests.