Elections are critical but by themselves are not synonymous with democracy, said IEC commissioner Nomsa Masuku. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

East London - Elections are critical but by themselves are not synonymous with democracy, said electoral commission (IEC) commissioner Nomsa Masuku during the signing of the electoral code by Eastern Cape-based political parties on Wednesday.

The code was signed at the East London International Convention Centre by 24 of the 26 political parties that will be contesting on May 8 in the province. 

Masuku said voters had the power to decide who would govern.  "When people complain about what has not gone right, they often forget that they have the power to choose. [Political leaders] that are sitting here are saying to voters 'choose me'. When you choose someone you need to ask the reasons why that person should be chosen," said Masuku. 

She said holding the powerful to account was within the grasp of voters. "We must put in place auxiliary controls, and those auxiliary controls are what we call institutions of accountability," said Masuku. 

Close to 3.7-million people are registered to vote in the Eastern Cape. The province has at least 10 newcomers in the political arena that will be contesting.

Eastern Cape chief electoral officer Khayakazi Magudumana said the province was ready for election day. Hot spots - areas prone to political violence - were being attended to by the IEC and municipalities. 

Some of the parties at the signing called on their members to refrain from violence while others used the opportunity to state their positions on national and provincial challenges.  

Nqaba Banga of the Democratic Alliance said voters should apply the message that was delivered by Masuku by voting for change. 

The African National Congress's Oscar Mabuyane called on those who would not be taking part in the elections to refrain from "disturbing" voters. 

Sandla Goqwana of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) said May 8 would see the end of the ANC-led government.

African News Agency (ANA)