Johannesburg – The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it is satisfied with the preparations being made ahead of the 2016 local government elections, and they are running ahead of schedule.
IEC Chief Electoral Officer Mosotho Moepya on Thursday said about R1.5 billion has been set aside for the 2015/16 financial year for the upcoming elections.
The IEC this year has about 218 000 electoral staff.
The date of the elections is yet to be announced, although the voter registrations will be open on 5 and 6 March.
Moepya said 22 500 voting stations will be open on these two days nationwide for citizens to register for elections.
The Chief Electoral Officer was briefing media in Johannesburg following a meeting between the commission and stakeholders earlier in the day.
The commission’s Vice Chairperson Terry Tselane said the purpose of the meeting was to ensure the enforcement of the Electoral Code of Conduct ahead of the 2016 local government elections.
Tselane said political parties were part of the preparation processes and they were able to raise issues that needed to be addressed.
“All in all we are satisfied with what we have been able to achieve,” said Tselane.
He said the commission will continue to meet with political parties through the party liaison structures. It has been observed that conversations between the commission and political parties have not been sufficient.
Free and fair elections
“The issue of free and fair elections is not solely the responsibility of the IEC, but it is a responsibility of all organs. And all organs have ensured that the elections will be free and fair,” said Tselane.
He said political parties also have a responsibility to ensure that elections are free and fair.
He urged political parties to assist the IEC in pointing out areas where it could be more efficient.
“We expect the 2016 local government elections to be tough… but please, political parties, if you know that something cannot be substantiated don’t talk about it in public because you know it is not true,” said Tselane.
But, Tselane said, if political parties have the information that is indeed correct [and unfair] they can take the commission to the Electoral Court or South African Police Services, to ensure that the commission will be accountable.
Access to the Electoral Court
Electoral Court Judge Jeremiah Shongwe said any individual has a right to approach the Electoral Court if they are dissatisfied with the elections processes.
“There is no money that is being paid. You don’t need an attorney or a lawyer to go to the Electoral Court. It is a specialised court. It is the people’s court,” said Judge Shongwe.
He said the IEC as an organisation also has the right to approach the Electoral Court when there is an issue that needs to be straightened out.