Voters urged to exercise their right to vote in by-elections – with safety protocols
Durban - THE Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is putting strict Covid-19 protocols in place for the by-elections that will take place across the country tomorrow.
Thousands of voters are expected to take to polling stations in all nine provinces to participate in municipal by-elections on the day dubbed “super Wednesday” by the IEC.
In KwaZulu-Natal there are 12 wards where by-elections will be held. Four wards will be contested in the eThekwini Municipality and one ward in each of the following: Msunduzi Municipality, Ray Nkonyeni Municipality on the South Coast,
Nquthu, Umvoti, Pongola, Nkandla, Mthonjaneni and Mtubatuba municipalities in northern KZN.
Several parties have been out force campaigning.
Last week IFP provincial chairperson Thami Ntuli was in wards 81 and 84 in uMlazi township, and ANC members campaigned in other parts of Durban this past weekend.
The DA has also been canvassing. Chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the IEC was confident that the by-elections would be free, fair and safe “as long as all stakeholders conform to the strict safety measures and protocols put in place at voting stations”.
To keep voters safe, he said, there would be strict social-distancing rules both outside and inside voting in stations.
There would also be mandatory wearing of masks by all people within the boundaries of the voting station.
There would be hand sanitising at the entrances and exits of the voting stations and the traditional indelible ink marker pens would be replaced with an indelible ink liquid that would be applied from a bottle to voters’ thumbs using cotton buds which would be disposed after each use, he said.
“Protective equipment including masks, gloves and face shields has been procured for election staff for voting stations and for conducting home visits for those voters who are physically disabled, infirm or pregnant,” he said.
Mamabolo said that across the country, a total of 609 133 voters were on the certified voters rolls for the various by-elections. A total of 23 008 had applied and had been approved to cast a special vote – 12 218 via home visits and 10 790 at their voting stations. Special votes would be cast today. The by-elections are being contested by 40 political parties with a total of 444 candidates certified as contestants. This includes 19 independent candidates. Of the candidates, 305 are men and 139 are women.
Mamabolo urged voters to exercise their right to vote.
“We need voters to turn out in numbers to participate to give credibility and legitimacy to the outcome – especially in ward by-elections where victory can be determined by a handful of votes,” he said.