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IEC all set for Municipal Elections

Written by More Matshediso and Ndyebo Kopo

The Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says it is technically ready to conduct the 2021 Municipal Elections.

The elections are scheduled to take place on 27 October 2021.

Chairperson of the IEC Glen Mashinini said preparing for the country’s fifth Municipal Elections under uncertain and unpredictable conditions has seen the IEC dealing with one of the most difficult balancing acts in democratic history.

“The Commission is literally walking a tightrope. On the one side is the tyranny of the elections becoming a super-spreader event, leading to further loss of human life.

“On the other side is the tyranny of the failure to adhere to the dictates of our Constitution, leading to democratic backsliding and setting an undesirable precedent for the future. We dare not fall to either side,” he explained.

Technically ready

The IEC believes the 2021 Municipal Elections should proceed as things currently stand.

“Based on the Constitution, the law, operational readiness for the elections and a thorough assessment of the current pandemic conditions, the Commission is of the view that we are technically ready to deliver the elections.

“This assessment was conducted in consultation with health and disaster management authorities and various subject matter experts.”

The IEC has also drawn extensively on the experiences of more than 100 countries and territories around the world that have successfully held elections under Coronavirus Disease conditions.

Mashinini assured South Africans that measures are in place to ensure that the elections are conducted safely.

“These protocols have been developed and tested successfully in over 150 by-elections over the past seven months,” he said.

Mashinini urged all citizens to take part in the elections, saying voting is not just about the IEC, political parties or independent candidates.

“Elections are about ordinary citizens coming together to determine the future of our cities, towns, communities and neighbourhoods in an expression of the will of the people.

Young and first-time voters

The IEC is encouraging eligible voters to register and participate in the October elections through a mobilisation campaign under the theme, ‘Every Voice Together’.

Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said a major focus of the campaign is on encouraging young and first-time voters to register and vote in a bid to boost voter registration numbers ahead of the closing of the voters’ roll.

Based on population estimates from Statistics South Africa, it is estimated that 15 million eligible voters remain unregistered.

Currently, the voters’ roll has 25.75 million registered voters.

“Of these, about 60% are under the age of 30. This is not necessarily a reflection of so-called apathy by young people.

“Young voters have had fewer opportunities to register than older voters, with millions only qualifying for registration over the past 24 months since the last major voter registration drive.”

He added that the youth are used to operating in a digital and online environment, and looking for a more convenient and accessible option for registration.

“The IEC is working with political parties within the National Party Liaison Committee to finalise alternative and additional modalities for registration and we hope to make announcements in this regard soon,” Mamabolo said.

Voter registration weekend

The voter registration weekend is scheduled to take place from 17 – 18 July 2021, when all registered voters will be able to check and update their registration details, and new voters can register.

All 23 151 voting stations will open from 8am to 5pm over the weekend.

This will be the only opportunity for voters to register and check their registration status at their voting stations.

However, ongoing voter registration will continue during working hours at local IEC offices until the proclamation of the elections.

Registered voters will still be able to amend their registration details through the 'Click, Check, Confirm' functionality on the IEC’s website.

To register as a voter, citizens must be at least 16 years old and be in possession of a valid South African ID document – either a green barcoded ID book or a smartcard ID.

Voters must be registered at a voting station in the ward in which they are ordinarily resident and must provide an address or detailed description of a place of residence.

However, proof of address (e.g. in the form of a utility account) is not required for registration.– SAnews.gov.za

Eligible voters can find out more about where, when and how to register by visiting the IEC’s website at www.elections.org.za Existing voters can check their registration details on the website or by SMSing their ID number to 32810 (at a cost of R1).