Pretoria - The 2021 municipal elections have been given a clean bill of health by the Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), which last night declared the democratic process free and fair.
This was the sentiment shared by the chief electoral officer, IEC chair Glen Mashinini, who spoke during a closing ceremony hosted at the national elections operations centre at the Pretoria Showgrounds last night.
He said the commission was glad that it was "still flying high the banner of electoral integrity, excellence as well as free and fair elections“.
He said the election results were determined in terms of Section 54 (1) (b) of the Municipal Electoral Act.
“We, as the commission, are satisfied that despite the few glitches, for which we deeply apologise, we have delivered quality elections. The commission is happy to report that our unique party liaison committee (PLC) system is indeed very effective and working.
“It is through the system that we were able to catch an electoral officer who transgressed our electoral laws by stuffing ballots into a box and it is because of the vigilance of the party agents and members of the PLC that the mishandling of ballot boxes was exposed,” Mashinini said.
He said the elections were a test for political parties, the commission and the voters as they were hosted under challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, bad weather and power cuts.
However, he said that despite the challenges the commission achieved its innovative objectives of taking the electoral system to the next level of automation, which was the introduction of the voter management device to eliminate allegations of double voting.
He said the commission had received and cleared 290 objections after investigation.
“The commission is pleased to announce that it has satisfied itself that the conditions for free and fair elections were met and that the results for 213 councils are declared as final,” he said.
Of the 26.1 million registered voters, 12 million cast their ballots.
The ANC walked away with 161 municipalities, the DA 13 municipalities, while the IFP achieved the majority in 10 municipalities.
There were at least 66 hung municipalities where outright winners could not be declared.
President Cyril Ramaphosa described the elections as another milestone in the advancement of the country’s democracy.
He said the elections were contested by 325 political parties and nearly 95 000 candidates, of whom 1 500 were independent candidates.
“This is a sign that multiparty politics is flourishing in our country and that any South African and indeed anyone has an equal chance and an opportunity to run for public office. This enriches our democracy and in many ways also enriches us as a people,” he said.
“I would like to thank all South Africans for also hosting an election that was peaceful, free and fair,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the declaration of free and fair election has been confirmed by many observers.
He said the elected councillors now needed to get down to work.
“The people of South Africa want their lives improved. They want better services. They want their representatives to be responsive and also to be accountable. They want to live in a better South Africa where their lives are realised and treated with respect,” Ramaphosa said.