Political parties commit to peaceful election

Political parties on Thursday vowed to keep the peace in the run-up to the national election, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said.

All the major parties represented in Parliament publicly signed a pledge committing themselves to the code to which they are also bound under the country’s Electoral Act.

”The pledge says these parties are committing themselves to abide by and be bound by the electoral code of conduct. It also indicated their commitment to non-violent and non-intimidating electioneering,” said IEC spokesperson Solly Kganyago.

Parties represented include the African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the Independent Democrats, the Congress of the People (Cope), the Pan Africanist Congress and the African Christian Democratic Party.

In total, 16 political parties signed the pledge.

The IEC held a two-day seminar promoting tolerance in the wake of increasing political temperatures in historical hot spots such as KwaZulu-Natal.

Three ANC members were shot and injured during a party rally in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal, recently.

Six other ANC supporters were also injured when the buses they were travelling in to the rally were hit with stones. Cope members claimed they were attacked by ANC supporters during party meetings in the past weekend.

The political violence in KwaZulu-Natal had culminated in mud-slinging between the ANC and the IFP, with each party laying the blame for the unrest at the other’s doorstep.

Gauteng IEC head Sy Mamabolo said the IEC envisioned a ”mature” system of electioneering where parties could campaign ”next to each other” without conflict. However, he added that South Africa had not quite reached that point.

”We want a mature system. The idea is to have parties next to each without leading to conflict, this is the ideal we want to see as a country… where you go to one party meeting and your wife goes to another on the same day in the same area,” he said.

Mamabolo said it was hoped through publicly declaring their commitment to tolerance and non-violence that parties would make an earnest attempt to adhere to the code.

Meanwhile, South African artists and musicians called on South Africans to join them on March 20 for a day of prayer and reflection ahead of the elections.

Artists such as Sibongile Khumalo, Sipho ”Hotstix” Mabuse, Ringo Madlingozi, Lebo Mashile, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Tumi (of Tumi and the Volume), Simphiwe Dana, Gloria Bosman, Abigail Kubheka, Jabu Hlongwane, Zubz, Percy Ingle, Gcina Mhlophe, Sylvia Mdunyelwa, Neo Muyanga, Shado Twala, Busi Mhlongo, and Tina Schouw are set to take part in the event.

It is set to take place at the Freedom Park in Pretoria under the theme ”Forgive and be forgiven”.

”The day offers us an opportunity to pray for release from the pain and hurt of the past. It’s about reclaiming our lost innocence and the greatness in ourselves as a nation,” said Khumalo.

The day’s programme includes performances as well as various faith-based initiatives. — Sapa

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