IEC: A record 48 political parties to participate in May elections

Charles Molele

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it has put adequate measures in place to eliminate any vote rigging that may occur during the upcoming general elections in May.

“We don’t envisage any vote rigging or fraud during the elections. The IEC has implemented a number of built-safeguards to prevent any vote rigging, IEC’s chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo told Inside Politic in an exclusive interview on Monday.

He said the IEC has so far captured 23-million addresses of the more than 26-million people on the voter’s roll – a move that will go a long way in ensuring fraud free elections.

“Firstly, you need to vote in the district where you are registered. You also need a valid identity document and be on the voter’s roll. We [will] also apply indelible ink on the left thumb of a voter,” said Mamabolo.

The 2019 general election to be held on May 8, is expected to be closely contested, with opposition parities having invested extra resources this time around to reduce the ANC’s majority to under 50%.

The governing party experienced a significant decline during the 2014 national elections and local government elections in 2016, partly due to former president Jacob Zuma’s multiple blunders since he took office in 2009.

A recent poll by the Institute of Race Relations pointed out that the governing party was facing a significant decline in the upcoming elections and that in Gauteng, the party was well below a majority at 41%, with the “EFF growth remaining high, while in the Western Cape, the DA majority is on a knife-edge, with smaller parties showing some growth.”

However, the ANC’s internal baseline survey said the ANC in Gauteng will increase its majority by 54% during the polls.

Read: Makhura confident ANC will retain Gauteng

While political pundits and observers have indicated the ANC was to improve its performance due to president Cyril Ramaphosa’s popularity, recent developments such as the chronic power outages by Eskom, damning allegations of state capture at the Zondo Commission, the Bosasa scandal, the ANC candidate list riddled with unscrupulous politicians and the arrest of a senior ANC KZN leader, have pushed the governing party into a corner once again.

Mamabolo said presiding officers and voting staff have all went through comprehensive training, which involves counting of ballots, the interpretation of legislation, crowd management, filling in of the results slips and overseeing the process such as ensuring that the ballots are delivered.

“In the past [2014] we’ve had our presiding officers and voting staff in Alexandra leaving behind used ballot boxes after voting. The ballots were collected and thrown in the open field. The EFF made allegations that the ballots were not counted but they were counted. In our training we have emphasised no one must leave behind used ballot boxes at the voting station following the voting process.”

Mamabolo said thus far 48 political parties have registered to participate in the National Assembly elections while 36 parties have registered to participate in provincial legislatures.

“This is significant. In 2014 we only had 29 registered parties participating in the national elections. The number has now grown to 48 parties,” said Mamabolo.  

“We are now at the final stages of verification. We will announce the official communique on Wednesday about all parties that are contesting.”

Mamabolo said at least 29,000 people have registered to vote at the 121 foreign missions of the republic, and the majority of voters were in the United Kingdom, Dubai, Netherlands and Australia.

“We have a record 9,000 persons registered to vote in London. It is by far the biggest of all foreign countries after Dubai, Netherlands and Canberra in Australia,” said Mamabolo.

He said the process of printing the ballot paper has also kick-started and confirmed that at least 50-million ballots will be printed over the next 10 days.

“We will ensure the ballot papers comply with certain standards and that they are packaged properly to voting stations and are delivered on time,” said Mamabolo. 

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