Countdown starts to municipal elections

The countdown for South Africa’s 2006 municipal elections, set to be held on March 1, started in earnest on Tuesday with the publication of the electoral timetable in the Government Gazette, according to chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula, head of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Announcing the timetable, Tlakula said it was approved by the IEC following the promulgation of the date for the municipal elections. The national common voters’ roll to be used in the elections has already closed and will be certified on January 11, she added.

Other events in the election timetable include:

  • notification of the IEC by political parties and independent candidates of their intention to participate in the municipal elections by January 19;
  • nomination of ward and party candidates and payment of deposits by January 19;
  • compilation by the IEC of a list of the parties contesting the elections and the certification of those lists by January 30;
  • notification by the IEC that copies of a list of voting stations and their addresses are available at the local IEC office by February 8;
  • notification by the IEC of the routes for mobile voting stations, including locations and estimated times of stopping by February 8; and
  • issuing of certificates by the IEC to persons whose names appear on a party list and to each ward candidate by February 13.

Following this, the IEC said, all registered voters whose names appear on the certified voters’ roll will be able to vote for the candidate or party of their choice at the voting station where they have registered when voting takes place for the municipal elections on Wednesday March 1.

Tlakula explained that voters living in the six metropolitan councils—Tshwane (Pretoria), the City of Johannesburg (Johannesburg), Ekurhuleni (East Rand), the City of Cape Town (Cape Town), Nelson Mandela (Port Elizabeth) and Durban-eThekwini (Durban Metro)—will have two votes each.

One vote, based on the first-past-the-post principle, will count for the ward candidate of their choice and the second vote, based on the principle of proportional representation, will count for the party of their choice and will determine the overall composition of the councils.

In local councils with wards, voters will get three ballot papers—one vote for the ward candidate, one for a party and a third for proportional representation on the district council.

In local councils without wards, voters will get two ballot papers—one proportional representation ballot for the party in the local council and another proportional representation ballot for the party on the district council.

In district management areas, which are entities managed by district councils, voters will get two ballot papers to vote for that area’s representative in the district council and for the overall proportional composition of the district council.

Tlakula noted that, at present, parties are registered with the IEC as political parties. The fee to register is R500. Parties that want to contest the municipal elections must be registered by January 19, the cut-off date in the election timetable for the nomination of candidates. Ward candidates also have to be registered voters in the municipality they want to contest.

Tlakula said the IEC appeals to all organs of civil society in South Africa—including the business community, churches, women’s groups, NGOs, traditional authorities, schools, universities, technikons, religious and rural communities, social groups, sports groups and governmental institutions—to join in the efforts of the commission to promote maximum participation in the municipal elections.

Voters who need more information on the municipal elections, such as confirmation of their registration details, voting stations’ location or the different type of ballot papers, should contact the IEC call centre toll-free on Tel: 0800 11 8000 or visit the website.

Voters who want to know whether they are registered and where they should vote can send an SMS with their identity number to 32810 or visit any Absa ATM.—I-Net Bridge

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