The Electoral Commission chairperson, Glen Mashinini, says even under the difficult circumstances brought on by COVID-19, they are ready to deliver the 2021 Local Government Elections with unwavering consistency and commitment to South Africa’s democracy.
Mashinini said the Commission has delivered a consistent succession of free and fair local elections in the past three decades.
Speaking at the signing ceremony of the Electoral Code of Conduct by political parties contesting the forthcoming elections, Mashinini said the Commission is surging ahead with preparations.
“As our nation battles with the devastation caused by COVID-19 to our economy and our lives, the Electoral Commission remains hard at work to ensure that these elections are delivered safely in fulfilment of our Constitutional mandate,” Mashinini said.
He said the introduction of Voter Management Devices (VMD) is “nothing short of revolution”.
“The VMDs have increased the speed of processing of applications. Approved applications already have their addresses captured. Previously, it would have taken months to capture address details of voters.
“This is a major step in the management of our electoral processes.”
Mashinini reminded South Africans that applications for Special Votes have opened.
“We encourage as many voters as possible, not only the infirm, to apply for Special Votes before the closing date on 4 October. This will reduce the number of people going to voting stations on election day.
“Depopulating our voting stations on election day is itself a mitigating measure against COVID-19,” Mashinini said.
During today’s signing ceremony, only 15 political parties represented in the National Party Liaison Committee (NPLC) were represented at the ceremony.
According to the Electoral Commission, 325 political parties will be taking part in the forthcoming local government elections.
Mashinini said the signing ceremony is as important as democracy itself.
Mashinini explained that the Code of Conduct provides parameters of conduct that is consistent with the vision of the democratic forebears who conceptualised a democratic society at peace with itself and all its constituent elements.
“The responsibilities of the political parties, agents and candidates also go beyond abiding by the code. Political parties must also let the public know about the code, promote the purpose of the code and support efforts to educate voters,” Mashinini said.
Mashinini said the Chief Electoral Officer certified the voters’ roll on 26 September.
The voters’ roll contains the names of 26.2 million voters, 55% of which are women.
Gauteng province has the biggest representation on the voters’ roll, with 6.1 million voters, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 5.4 million.
The biggest age cohort on the voters’ roll is 30 – 39 years, at 6.7 million, representing 25%.
Mashinini said the election train is well in full speed. The Commission certified and published lists of candidates contesting these elections on Wednesday.
“It is in the hands of all participants in these important elections to ensure that the elections are held in exciting but peaceful conditions. It is the hands of political parties to uphold and defend the Code of Conduct.”