IEC urges all political parties to allow each other to campaign freely

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IEC Chairperson Glen Mashinini has urged all political parties that are contesting the local government elections to allow each other to campaign freely.

Mashinini was addressing different political parties at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban at a ceremony where parties signed the electoral code of conduct. The event is aimed at publicly promoting tolerance amongst political parties.

A total of 323 political parties are contesting elections nationally.

In the 2016 local government elections, there were only 200 political parties who contested the elections with 61 000 candidates.

In KwaZulu-Natal 78 parties have put up candidates.

Only 5 political parties are contesting elections in all municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal.

The IEC says the eThekwini Metro has the highest number of independent candidates.

Mashinini has warned political parties not to use language that will incite violence.

“I think the important thing is that our constitution envisages that in our country the people should be free to express their views and to participate in elections without any fear without any coercion. And for the elections, the outcomes to be held to be free and fair. We, therefore, require all those who are contesting that they should sign the pledge but even if you don’t sign it, because it is part of the electoral act you are already (bound) by it, by the fact of submitting candidates to contact the elections.”

Mashinini has raised concerns about the intimidation of IEC staff members. He has urged political parties to use the proper channels to lodge grievances.

“We have seen in some situations that there are those who opt to intimidate, to coerce or even to intimidate or even to be abusive to our employees, especially in the voting stations. We urge everyone that we, as the commission, there are very clear rules and regulations that indicate if there is any dissatisfaction with the performance of our employees, we should follow those processes and procedures there is no necessity for abusing and intimidating anybody swerving our country during elections.”

IEC Operations Manager in KwaZulu-Natal, Ntombifuthi Masinga, says the number of candidates and political parties have increased.

“We have 78 political parties contesting at different parts of this province. But not all of them are contesting the entire KZN. This is a competitive slide that looks at 2011, 2016, and 2021 elections. You will see how much a number of political parties contesting in this province had grown. We are currently sitting at 78 and we come from 28 political parties in 2011. The ward candidates come from just over 5 600 in 2011, 6400 in 2016. This year, we recorded 14 092 people that are contesting the 900 ward seats that we have.”

Signing the pledge, political parties committed themselves to ensuring political tolerance in the province.

ANC Chairperson Sihle Zikalala and the IFP’s Blessed Gwala say political leaders should preach tolerance to their members.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) one of the many political parties formed ahead of the 2019 general elections has also pledged to abide by the rules.

Provincial Executive Committee member Sipho Mbalo says they will work together with other political parties to ensure a free and fair election.

“As the ATM, we are the servants of peace and we do understand that we need to work together with everyone. We understand that every voter has a choice to make and we pledge that we will keep everything, every rule laid for us in good faith.”

The IEC says election results will be formally announced on the 9th of November. The current councillors and mayors will remain in their positions until the 8th of November.

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