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IEC gears up for its ‘most challenging’ elections

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says it is prepared for the local government elections taking place on October 27, chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo told a press briefing on Thursday. 

“The commission is confident that, with the necessary support from the political parties, civil society and South Africans, we will host a successful local government election. This year’s election will be among the most challenging elections ever faced by the commission.”

He said there would be only one voter registration weekend this year, unlike the two held in previous years.

“It’s a reality that has been posed to us by the nature of the limited resources we have with us. We would have loved to have two registration weekends as normal. We are constrained by law to do the elections only in one day, but special votes may be extended,”  said Mamabolo.

“Not all parties were satisfied, as some were calling for the elections to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. We considered the strength of debate from all parties,” he said.

On concerns about Covid-19, Mamabolo said the department of health has assured the commission that voting will not be affected by the pandemic. 

“The minister of health said they are  planning to vaccinate 16-million South Africans by October 27 2021, and he also said they cannot estimate really when another peak, the spike of this virus might occur. The minister was transparent with everyone, and assured that all protocols will be followed and organised during the whole process,” Mamabolo said.

This will be the sixth local government elections in a democratic South Africa.

The IEC said in a statement on Thursday that the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa of the date of local government elections would create certainty and allow the commission and all other entities to begin their preparations to hold free, fair and safe elections.

One of the key focuses for the commission is to execute a large voter registration drive in which all voting stations will open to allow voters to check and update their registration details and for new voters to register.

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Chris Gilili
Chris Gilili is a climate and environmental journalist at the Mail & Guardian’s environmental unit, covering socioeconomic issues and general news. Previously, he was a fellow at amaBhungane, the centre for investigative journalism.

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