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The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in the Western Cape has called for mutual respect between the political parties contesting elections, the IEC and the voters. The call was made by the IEC’s provincial electoral officer, Michael Hendrickse, during the signing of the electoral code of conduct by political parties and independents who are contesting the national and provincial polls on the 29th of May this year.

“I think at the end of the day, elections can become a complex thing; basically it is a contest. If we all respect one another, from the IEC, we respect the fact that they are contestants in our elections and without them we would not be doing elections. As much as we respect the political parties, they need to respect both the authority of the IEC to conduct elections but most importantly us as the IEC and political parties and independents contesting elections, we need to respect our voters. Ultimately we are seeking the voter to come out and vote and give their opinions in the ballot box so that the government at both national and provincial level reflects the will of our people,” said Hendrickse.

Infographic explaining what happens after voting. Graphics by Lilita Gcwabe

There are over three million registered voters in the City of Cape Town, most of whom are women and born between 1975 and 1984. The Western Cape has 1,572 voting stations of which 26 are temporary structures and 687 are schools. Speaking about the IEC’s readiness for elections, the Election Matters manager, Belinda Mbeleni, told the political parties who filled up the Dulcie September Hall in Athlone on Thursday that they are getting generators for the voting stations in case of loadshedding. “The training of presiding officers started on the 1st of March. We have been accused of appointing educators the most but during the 2021 local government elections we proved that the bulk of our staff were not educators,” Mbeleni said.

“Since the opening of the Section 24A notification process on the 15th of March, we have received 8,042 notifications for the national ballot and 2,902 for the provincial and regional ballot. We have received 5,700 applications for home visits. The home visit applications are the most abused and as a result, we have decided not to accept any manual application unless it’s in a spreadsheet and each application can be accounted for,” she said.

Graphic explaining how to give a notice when you are not going to vote where you are registered.

IEC commissioner, Janet Love warned politicians to be aware of the disinformation that can be shared via social media. Love urged them to check for disinformation and not be party to it.

Home visits are among the special votes which are the most abused according to the IEC in the Western Cape.

Retired judge and anti-apartheid activist, and the guest speaker, Albie Sachs spoke about the importance of voting and how the country came to the decision of proportional representation in South Africa. Sachs relayed a story of how the apartheid government wanted the former African National Congress president, Albert Luthuli to choose between being a chief or a politician. “And his answer was that the road to freedom is via the cross; and Desmond Tutu was amused when I said the road to freedom is via the cross – the cross on the ballot,” said Sachs to big applause.

The provincial electoral officer, Michael Hendrickse urged the political parties and the public to report any breaking of the electoral code of conduct to the police and to the IEC. “The most common complaint that we get are parties complaining that their posters have been removed or defaced. The first thing they must do is to report it to the police,” he said.