Elections are always important in a democracy, but this year’s municipal elections take on an added significance, after the ANC rallied round this week to defend their beleaguered president, Jacob Zuma.
August 3rd will be the chance for the electorate to give their verdict on the Zuma presidency. It could be a tough test for the ANC.
As Business Day put it:
“Apart from maintaining its traditional Western Cape support base, the Democratic Alliance (DA) is expecting to do well in Nelson Mandela Bay metro and in Gauteng, encroaching on strong ANC support bases.
Adding to this mix is a surging Economic Freedom Fighters that is contesting local government elections for the first time. The party has pegged its support base at grassroots level and is expected to benefit from service delivery issues bedevilling many municipalities.”
This comes as the list of ANC veterans calling for President Zuma to step down continues to grow.
Ahmed Kathrada and Denis Goldberg have now been joined by Ronnie Kasrils‚ former deputy ANC secretary general Cheryl Carolus‚ former head of the ANC Youth League Ronald Lamola and former Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi.
Local government elections to take place on August 3
PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has announced that the local government elections will take place on August 3.
The president made the announcement on Wednesday, saying the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs proclaimed the date in accordance with legal procedure.
Mr Zuma also encouraged voters to register and update their details during the second and final leg of voter registration this weekend.
“We urge all those who are eligible to vote register to vote and those who have not checked their names to do so on Saturday and Sunday this weekend so that together we continue to reaffirm and deepen our democracy,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) briefed the media on its readiness for registration weekend.
Chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya called on young, first-time voters to register for the upcoming elections at the final registration this weekend.
“Statistics show that approximately 80% of the 8-million eligible voters who are not currently registered are younger than 30,” he said.
About 23,000 voting stations will be opened this Saturday and Sunday for voters to register.
Mr Moepya said more than 3-million people registered to vote in the previous voter registration weekend in March. Of those who registered, 700,000 were new voters.
Mr Moepya also said he was hopeful that the upcoming voter registration weekend would be less violent than the previous one.
In March, violent protests broke out in parts of the country during voter registration, resulting in some stations being closed to protect the commission’s staff.
Mr Moepya said: “Today is not about sharing security concerns and things, these are matters for the security cluster to deal with.”
However, he did say the IEC was working closely with security officials to ensure the safety of the commission’s staff and voters. He said too that the IEC was working on verifying the addresses of Tlokwe voters.
The North West municipality has had its by-elections postponed twice this year following complaints from several independent candidates. That followed a Constitutional Court order that the 2013 Tlokwe by-elections were not free and fair.
The independent candidates complained that the voters roll did not contain all the addresses for the voters, resulting in the Electoral Court and Constitutional Court ordering that the IEC clean up the roll before holding elections.
The commission has, in turn, filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court to have it clarify its order, following confusion over how far the commission should go to verify addresses.
“Perhaps to many going to court is picking a fight, (but) we are sensibly try to address a matter that has room for ample uncertainty,” said Mr Moepya.
Regarding public perceptions about the commission’s credibility, Mr Moepya said the IEC would continue to do its work instead of being bogged down by these.