IEC: So long, and thanks for all the votes

Independent Electoral Commission chairperson Brigalia Bam on Saturday declared the 2011 local government elections to be free and fair.

The Mail & Guardian travelled around Johannesburg on election day to find out how people felt about casting their vote. Service delivery seemed to be the main concern for most voters, followed closely by housing and job creation: South Africa wants results.
Making the declaration at the IEC’s election centre in Pretoria, she praised political parties for accepting the adjudication of disputes by the IEC.

“It has been a pleasure to serve this nation. South Africa’s multi-party democracy is increasingly being recognised by the international community,” Bam said.

Bam said South Africa was a country where political battles were fought at the “ballot box” and one admired for “reputation of credible elections”.

“South Africans have once more shown us the way, thank you South Africa.”

The African National Congress won 62% of the vote followed by the Democratic Alliance which received 23,9% of the votes cast on May 18.

The 2011 elections bucked the trend with an increased voter turnout at 57,6% according to IEC chief electoral officer Advocate Pansy Tlakula.
She had hoped for at least 40% of the country’s 23,65-million voters to cast their vote.

‘We have broken an international trend,” said Tlakula.

In 2000 the turnout was 48% while at the last local government elections in 2006 it was 48,4%.

Speaking at the ceremony to declare the results, President Jacob Zuma said that he was encouraged at the voter turnout in an election he described as being ‘about bread and butter issues”.

“People identified service delivery as an issue ... they decided that this election will be about the delivery of basic services,” he said.

“It came down to bread and butter issues as any municipal election should ... It indicates how citizens understand democracy.”

He said this election catapulted local government into the “mainstream” and would dispel perceptions that local government was the least important state sphere.

Zuma commended the commission and their ability to deliver a “free and fair election at all times”.

Bam urged those who did not vote, to accept the results of the elections.

The ANC took control of 198 councils, including seven metro councils. The DA won control of 18 councils, including the City of Cape Town.

The Inkatha Freedom Party won five councils while the newly formed New Freedom Party won two councils. There were ties in nine councils.

According to the IEC 1,89% of all votes cast were spoilt votes.

This was a decline over the 2,27% of votes spoilt in the 2006 elections.

Tlakula said that there were 63 objections raised by political parties, but these had all been resolved.

‘Not a single party has refused to accept the outcome of these elections.”

Chairperson of the Municipal Demarcation Board Landiwe Mahlangu praised the IEC for staging a successful election.

In his statement released on Saturday he said that the ‘next round” of demarcation and redetermination of municipal boundaries would be announced.

He urged communities and political parties to take part in the process which would precede the next municipal elections, which are expected to be held in 2016. - Sapa

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