Some political parties have expressed their readiness for this week’s by-elections. At least 96 vacancies for councillors in 56 municipalities will be contested on Wednesday.
These by-elections should have been held in March but were postponed by court order as the country was on lockdown due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
The over 90 vacancies for councillors across 56 municipalities are as a result of resignations, death, or redeployment.
And this weekend was a final push for parties vying for those vacancies. The ANC and the DA were in Kagiso west of Johannesburg on Sunday.
ANC Secretary general Ace Magashule was upbeat the ANC will emerge victorious.
“People of SA have complete confidence in the ANC and definitely they will vote ANC in numbers. Our campaign is wonderful, people still have hope in the ANC, we have gone to churches, in this area, there are many military veterans of Azanla from Azapo, from PAC and MK and they are happy. As we are doing door-to-door old people and young people are positive and I am definitely sure that they have realised that there is no need to vote parties except for the African National Congress.”
The EFF Secretary-General Marshal Dlamini on the other hand says his party remains an alternative choice to create jobs and once and for all return back land to its rightful owners.
“All our councillor candidates, the 95 of them they’ve been on the ground working hard and interacting with community informing them about the EFF manifesto about an alternative EFF government, the government that will create and ultimately the government that return back the land. ”
The IFP has used its campaign to call for calm and urged potential voters to adhere to health protocols as the country grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Party spokesperson is Mkhuleko Hlengwa says “IFP Spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa “We are calling for peace and calm and for the IEC under this new normal of Covid-19 circumstance voting to actually ensure that the necessary protocols are in place but all call on South Africans affected by these by-elections to exercise vigilance and discipline and make sure that as we exercise our democratic right we do not compromise health care.”
And After tough elections years, COPE has vowed to launch a comeback. Although not contesting all vacancies in the over 50 municipalities, the party is ready to disrupt the country’s political system, says its spokesperson Dennis Bloem.
Bloem says, “Our preparations for these by-elections are going according to plan. We are not going to the contest all the wards and all the vacancies, but where we are going to will contest we have done our spade-work, our people have done door-to-door talking to our people and we are ready for these by-elections. ”
Political parties are set to do their final push for votes again on Monday.
‘COVID-19 patients will vote’
The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says people who have contracted COVID-19 will not lose their right to vote. The commission updated members of the media on its state of readiness ahead of the crucial days.
It’s the final push for political parties as over 600 000 voters will head to the polls on Wednesday, in the country’s first of its kind historic by-elections.
The commission was unable to hold elections since March 2020 and plans to clear the backlog of all outstanding by-elections this week.
The by-elections are being contested by 40 political parties with a total number of 444 candidates certified as contestants including independent candidates.
Voters are expected to adhere to strict COVID-19 regulations at voting stations and will be required to maintain social distancing, wear a mask at all times, use hand sanitizer and bring their own pen if they do not want to use ones provided to them.
The commission says special provision has been made for people who have contracted coronavirus to vote.
IEC Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo says, “The principle is no one loses a right to vote because they were infected by COVID-19. Those that are in quarantine facilities and their ward is affected, they needed to apply for a special vote which will be administered tomorrow. If you are on a list of special voters, you’ve applied for a special vote, you are in a quarantine facility, you will be visited.”
Special voting on Tuesday
Meanwhile, special voting will be carried out on Tuesday. “A total of 609 133 voters are on the certified voters’ rolls for the various by-elections. A total of 23 008 applied and have been approved to cast a special vote, 12 218 via home visits, and 10 790 at their voting station. Special votes will be cast on Tuesday.”
The commission has spent over R2 million acquiring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to distribute at voting stations.
IEC Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Masego Sheburi says, “On the spend of PPE’s, we are now at about R3 million spent for the by-elections and this figure is increasing because we have by-elections scheduled for December as well as in January 2021.”
Voting stations will be open from 7am to 9pm. The results of the by-elections are expected to be announced on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the commission says it’s confident that the by-elections will be free, fair, and safe