South African local government election has been declared free and fair by the Electoral Commission Forum of the Southern African Development Community (ECF-SADC).
ECF-SADC chairperson, Justice Mahapela Lehohla, from Lesotho, made this known on Friday following he keenly observed the just concluded municipal elections.
Though there were incidents that marred the elections in some areas, Lehohla said the IEC really put up enhanced security features, outstanding accreditation process and classic live broadcasts that get results regularly updated.
The South African local government election transparency played when counting of votes was done in front of political party agents and observers, the observer noted.
He however disclosed that the mission observed some abnormalities that must be added to; adding these abnormalities would have brought the credibility and veracity of the election into disrepute if serious action was not taken.
These abnormalities include late arrival of election materials at voting station and the incident where voters turned out at voting stations in party dresses – this he said militates against SADC principles.
The chief observer also recommended that striking incidents at polling units be documented for future purposes.
In conclusion, he said: “On behalf of the Electoral Commissions Forum of the SADC countries, I congratulate the people of South Africa and the IEC; all electoral stakeholders and the government, on the orderly and peaceful municipal elections whose outcome we believe will reflect the will of the people.
The mission notes that practices and lessons learnt consisted of a commendable independence of the IEC both in law and practice.”
The much-awaited 2016 municipal elections took place on Wednesday 5 years after the last local government election held in 2011.
It is paramount to note that this year’s election is significant not only because it was hotly contested for but also because it plays a vital role in the direction of the upcoming presidential election.