SA ready for elections, no safety concerns, Sisulu assures diplomatic community

2019-02-19 16:05
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu. (Sarel van der Walt, Netwerk24)

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu. (Sarel van der Walt, Netwerk24)

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International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has assured the diplomatic corps that South Africa is prepared and ready to go to the polls in May.

Sisulu hosted a press briefing at her department's headquarters on Tuesday, following a quarterly engagement with members of the diplomatic corps in the country.

According to Sisulu, the message was all systems go for the elections, with the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) also invited to speak to the diplomats.

"The IEC was allowed in the meeting to keep them (diplomats) updated ahead of the May elections.

"We discussed the level of transparency and the level of preparedness. We have never had a problem with elections, but we like to keep our community informed.

"They (the diplomats) are an important part of our community. Therefore, we would like a close working relationship with them," Sisulu said.

A total of 229 political parties are expected to contest the elections on May 8.

65 diplomats to be sent abroad to strengthen voting

In February, News24 shared the story of three South Africans who braved minus 18 degree Celsius weather to visit the South African High Commission in Ottawa, Canada, to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming elections.

READ: South Africans living in Canada brave the snow to register for upcoming elections

In this regard, Dirco says that it has sent a cohort of about 65 career diplomats to strengthen their capacity and will offer the necessary support to South Africans abroad to exercise their rights within "what is affordable and possible for the ministry".

"Our missions are very much prepared for the elections. It won't be the first time that we will be facilitating the elections; this will be the fifth time.

"We have no doubt that our missions will ensure that South Africans abroad will have unfettered access come voting time," acting director general Mxolisi Nkosi said.

'We are looking forward to having peaceful elections'

Sisulu further added that South Africa was keeping a close eye on Zimbabwe following nationwide protests stemming from a steep increase in fuel prices that made gasoline there the world's most expensive.

"We remain available to support the Zimbabwean government within our means. They are our neighbours therefore the state of peace there affects us, and we would like to make sure it is a prosperous country," she added.

ALSO READ: Zimbabwe: Months of protests against high prices

Sisulu said an unrelated concern of the diplomatic community was the state of safety in South Africa - both in general, as well as their personal safety.

This, however, had nothing to do with the upcoming elections, Sisiulu said.

"The issue of security is also tied to their investments in the country. This is in no way related to the upcoming elections. We have indicated that this is something we are working on.

"As a result of the diplomatic corp's concerns for their safety, we have brought in the diplomatic police [a part of the South African Police Services] to provide them with protection," Sisulu further explained.

Sisulu congratulated other countries on the African continent that had conducted successful elections, such as Madagascar, and said she hoped that South Africa would enjoy the same success.

"With time, we are looking forward to having peaceful elections," she concluded.

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Read more on:    anc  |  lindiwe sisulu  |  elections 2019  |  politics
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