As the August 3 local government elections draw nearer, the Independent Electoral Commission is largely concerned about possible outbreak of election violence in the country.
Having put all things ready to ensure a free, fair and successful election, the IEC is still skeptical about the outcome of the elections.
South Africa has been plagued by increase in protest. Combined with a history of violence, structural inequality and growing frustration with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) – leads many to question whether South Africa would maintain its tradition of peaceful elections in August.
The past weeks’ violent protest where residents in various parts of Tshwane protested, looted, and destroyed property after the African National Congress (ANC) announced Thoko Didiza as its mayoral candidate, gives a striking hint on what lies ahead after the election.
The chaos gripped some of the city’s poorest townships for nearly a week as protesters burnt buses and cars, blocked roads, and looted businesses in rejection of a mayoral candidate they believed was being forced onto them. Five people died and about 200 people were arrested before the violence was finally quelled last Friday (June 24).
IEC CEO Mosotho Moepya said security in an election was a matter the commission followed closely and that violent protests leading up to the elections should not only worry the commission, but all South Africans, “Particularly those who want to ensure that we have free and fair elections.”
“We would expect our partners – particularly political parties – to do their best to keep the situation [under control], contained and arrested that we are able to have these elections within an environment conducive to free and fair elections.”
Moepya revealed that 200 parties and 61 014 candidates would contest the August 3 local government elections.
“This is approximately 65% more parties and approximately 12% more candidates than in the municipal elections held in 2011.”
However, a total of 8 350 candidates were disqualified for different reasons ranging from non submission of documentation, nonpayment and not being registered as voters in the municipality they wanted to contest.
IEC deputy chairperson Terry Tselane said the commission will continue to monitor the situation and have conversations with the political parties concerned, to make sure that issues that would lead to violence are dealt with.