Johannesburg - Independent candidates have been assured by the country’s communications regulatory authority that they are also entitled to be allocated time on broadcasters ahead of the November 1 local government elections.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) states that the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has amended elections broadcasts to make provision for the allocation of slots to both political parties and independent candidates.
“This was unprecedented and meant that not only was the authority (Icasa) cognisant of its constitutional mandate, but it also meant the authority also contributes to ensuring free and fair elections,” Icasa stated.
According to Icasa, it consulted on the draft municipal elections party broadcasts and political advertisements amendment regulations.
“The inclusion of the independent candidates for the allocation of public election broadcast slots was unprecedented and thus presented challenges.
“According to Icasa, the authority received the list of independent candidates and political parties from the IEC on October 4 and the number far exceeded the number of slots that are available based on the previous principles of allocation.
“The municipal elections will take place on November 1 and party elections broadcasts must be broadcast during the election broadcast period, despite the challenge,” the regulator said.
In the past, public election broadcasts for municipal elections broadcast did not include the independent candidates and in the municipal polls while the number of political parties’ share of the money has increased.
As a consequence, the number of the available party elections broadcast slots for the registered participants will not be sufficient to allocate to all participants.
Therefore, the current principle of allocation that the authority usually applies is not adequate to address the challenge stated above.
“Thus, to ensure that those contesting the elections have an opportunity to be allocated slots, the authority deemed it fit to amend the principles,” Icasa chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng said.
In terms of the basic allocation percentage of slots to be allocated to all political parties and independent candidates contesting seats in the municipal elections.
Icasa stated that independent candidates for the allocation of party elections broadcast slots was unprecedented and thus presented challenges.
”The authority received the list of independent candidates and political parties from the IEC on October 4 and the number far exceeded the number of the party elections broadcast slots that are available based on the previous principles of allocation,” Icasa said.
Icasa assured political parties and independent candidates that although its current principle of allocation is not adequate to address it needs to be altered.