IEC says it is ready for by-elections and promises to adhere to Covid-19 health protocols
Johannesburg – The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it is confident that Wednesday’s by-elections – the largest to be held on a single day – will run smoothly as they will be the first to be held under Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
The commission's chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo gave an update on Monday ahead of the by-elections that will take place in 95 wards across 55 municipalities in all nine provinces across the country.
Up to 40 political parties will participate in the elections with a total of 444 candidates expected to contest various wards.
The elections, which were initially scheduled to take place between March and September, were put on hold as the country went into lockdown due to the rise in Covid-19 infections.
Meanwhile, a breakdown of the 95 wards that will see thousands of voters turn out to cast their ballots include:
20 wards in the Northern Cape across 8 municipalities – two councils were dissolved and PR candidates must be elected
19 in the Eastern Cape across 13 municipalities
14 in Gauteng across 6 municipalities
12 in KwaZulu-Natal across 9 municipalities
11 are in the Western Cape across 5 municipalities
6 in the North West across 4 municipalities
5 in Mpumalanga across 3 municipalities
4 in Limpopo across 4 municipalities and
4 in the Free State across 3 municipalities.
A total of 609 133 voters are registered for the by-elections and 22 008 have already applied for special voting that will take place on Tuesday.
The early voting will include home visits and vote casting at voting stations.
According to Mamabolo, these by-elections will be the biggest test for the commission’s sense of readiness as the country is expected to vote in next year’s local government elections, which will also likely be held under Covid-19 restrictions.
Mamabolo also said voters should not be alarmed by the long lines at voting stations as physical distancing will play a role.
Voters will have to wear masks and keep physical distancing protocols.
If you feel uneasy about using the pens provided by the voting station, voters will be allowed to bring their own pens.
Another change that will be observed is that the traditional indelible ink marker pens will be replaced with indelible ink liquid which will be applied from a bottle to the thumb using cotton that will be disposed of after each use.
All IEC staff members will be provided with masks, gloves and face shields. The IEC has spent over R1 million to acquire additional Covid-19 equipment for staff members, Mamabolo confirmed.
"Wednesday’s by-elections are our first under Covid conditions. Unfortunately, they will not be the last. These by-elections are a test for all stakeholders ahead of future by-elections and for next year’s local government elections.
"With everyone’s co-operation we believe this week’s by-elections will provide a successful template for the planning and holding of free, fair and safe elections in the future," Mamabolo said.