IEC calls on parties to report violence

2016-06-23 10:31
IEC. (Elmarie Jack, News24)

IEC. (Elmarie Jack, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - The Independent Electoral Commission has challenged political parties to speak out against violence amid rising levels of brutality and intimidation marring the run-up to the local government elections.

Incidents of what appear to be politically-motivated murders, assaults and other forms of intimidation of candidates have been reported across a number of provinces, including Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the North West over the past few days.

Commission spokesperson Kate Bapela condemned the incidents and described them as a grave concern. “The Electoral Commission condemns in the strongest possible terms all unlawful conduct and any behaviour which contravenes the Electoral Code of Conduct and undermines our democratic process of free and fair elections,” she said.

“Violence, intimidation, destruction of property and intolerance have no place in a country with a constitution based on respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy. That some of these acts are being carried out under the guise of ‘defending democratic processes’ is all the more shameful and incongruent with our democracy.

“The Electoral Commission calls on all political leaders and candidates to speak out strongly against any conduct which undermines the conditions conducive to free and fair elections and especially the involvement of any of their members and supporters in such actions.

“Political leaders are ultimately responsible for the conduct of their supporters and members.”

Bapela said political parties and independent candidates contesting the August 3 elections should remember the code of conduct they had signed. “Infringements of the Code of Conduct carry severe penalties, including disqualification from elections. Any criminal conduct may lead to prosecution and penalties, including fines and jail terms.

“Any alleged criminal conduct should immediately be reported to the nearest police station. To help the Electoral Commission monitor and track investigations, those who report cases to the police are urged to e-mail the case number and information to the Electoral Commission at conduct@elections.org.za

“Aggrieved parties themselves also have a key role to play in taking allegations of violations of the Code of Conduct to the Electoral Court, which has wide-ranging powers to impose severe penalties that will send a strong message to those parties and persons that seek to render the Code of Conduct toothless.”

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

More than 12 000 people had registered to contest the local government elections in KwaZulu-Natal, IEC provincial chairperson Mawethu Mosery said yesterday.

Of these, almost 11 000 people would walk away without winning a seat.

“Only about 1 280 people would be elected to councillors’ positions,” he said.

Mosery said the challenge would be to ensure that this did not give rise to widespread protests.

“That increases the importance of ensuring a free and fair poll where the outcome could be trusted,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  iec  |  violence

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