Voting in a pandemic: IEC procures bulk PPE for upcoming by-elections

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Duncan Alfreds, News24, file
  • The IEC has spent R3 million on this week's by-elections.
  • IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo says 95 wards will be contested.
  • Of those, two municipalities in the Northern Cape have been dissolved. 

As South Africans prepare to head to the polls for by-elections in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has budgeted R3 million for personal protective equipment (PPE). 

IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the commission had to endure a number of budget reductions. 

"We have therefore had to adjust plans to come [with something] within what is available. At the same time, the commission is planning to engage with the Ministry of Health to see to the need to keep funding levels at an optimum level to ensure that the mandate we have to deliver for the country is not impaired for want of budgetary constraints." 

He said projects that were delayed included a pilot project involving the use of technology in select wards.

A range of sanitising materials, including hand sanitisers, wipes, masks and bins, have been procured to ensure adherence to Covid-19 regulations, he said. A total of 28 000 face masks, 3 600 face shields, 65 000 rubber gloves, 1 500 biohazard bins, 1 150 sanitiser wipes, 1 300 litres of sanitisers and 10 000 social distancing markers were obtained.

READ | IEC will support Parliament but stay out of new electoral system debate - chairperson

Voting is scheduled to take place from 07:00 until 09:00 at 455 voting stations on Wednesday, he said. He added that 609 133 voters were certified and 23 008 received approval for special voting. 

The Northern Cape will take the bulk of the by-elections with 20 wards contested across eight municipalities. Two of these municipalities have been dissolved, which means PR councillors will also be voted for.

In the Eastern Cape, 19 wards will be contested in 13 municipalities.

There are also:

  • 14 wards in Gauteng across six municipalities;
  • 12 wards in KwaZulu-Natal in nine municipalities;
  • six wards in the North West in four municipalities;
  • 11 wards in the Western Cape in five municipalities;
  • five wards in Mpumalanga across three municipalities;
  • four wards in Limpopo in four municipalities;
  • and four wards in the Free State in three municipalities. 

He added that the results would be announced on Thursday. 

"The by-elections are being contested by 40 political parties with a total of 444 candidates certified as contestants. This includes 19 independents candidates," he said.

He said 69% of the candidates were male and 31% were female.

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