KZN lauded for political tolerance

KwaZulu-Natal has been able to show the world that when power is contested, people do not have to die, Dr Brigalia Bam, chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), said on Tuesday.

She was speaking at the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in Pietermaritzburg on preparations for the 2009 election.

“This province, with all the difficulties it faced over the past ten years, has still shown political tolerance. They are an example to other provinces,” she said.

With 13 months to go before the election, Dr Bam stressed that voter education and training of IEC facilitators would be intensified.

She said young and old needed to understand the election system properly and not just turn up on voting day.

She challenged KwaZulu-Natal political parties to increase their voters from four million to at least 4,8-million.

“KwaZulu-Natal, you can easily make 4,8-million to 4,9-million voters,” she said.

Professor Jabulani Maphalala of the National Democratic Convention said the only way the number of voters would increase was if ballot papers and voting information booklets were changed to the IsiZulu language.

He said many voters did not understand the English booklets.

Bam, meanwhile, said that to avoid vote-rigging, presiding officers would be screened by political parties beforehand.

“If people have objections about the person, they can raise it before the election,” she said.

The IEC’s chief executive officer, advocate Pansy Tlakula, said timelines had been set down for planning purposes.

“The election can be held after April 14 2009, but only within 19 days after this date.”

She said the voters’ roll would be completed by the end of February.—Sapa

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