The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) warns that political violence and assassinations such as those currently plaguing KwaZulu-Natal pose a key risk to next year’s national elections.
The IEC briefed members of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on its state of readiness for the 2019 poll.
The IEC says there was a rise in both intra and inter-party conflict and violence ahead of the 2016 Local Government Elections.
The violence, it claims, was frequently linked to party candidate list processes.
The elections body says similar violence and assassinations pose a key risk ahead of next year’s election.
It warns that the ongoing political violence in KwaZulu-Natal could escalate and even spread to other parts of the country as parties finalise their candidate nomination process.
According to the Constitution next year’s general election should be held between the 8th of May and 7th of August. President Cyril Ramaphosa will decide the date in consultation with the IEC.
The Commission says in keeping up with the latest technology, it is introducing a new device to track ballot papers supplied to a voting station.
National Senior Manager for Elections, Abraham Granville, says the nomination period for candidates may trigger further killings.
Granville says municipal demarcation boundaries, violent service delivery protests, which tend to be common ahead of elections, and the killings of candidates impact negatively on their work.
About 27 people have been murdered in politically-motivated killings in KwaZulu Natal since 2016. The Commission also says the increase in litigation is another factor which poses risk to an election. It says this reduces certainty of election results.
The Commission’s chairperson Vuma Mashinini says they will not rest until they meet their obligations and commitments of delivering a free and fair election.
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