NewsSouthern AfricaSouth Africa gears for local government polls


Posted on Wednesday, 17 February 2016 16:20

South Africa gears for local government polls

By Crystal Orderson

Last month, President Jacob Zuma acknowledged that the polls would be a big test for the ANC. Photo©ReutersSouth Africa has stepped up preparations for this year's watershed local government elections where the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is expected to face its strongest challenge since the country's first democratic polls in 1994.

ANC would battle it out with the main opposition party – the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the militant Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)- for the control of major municipalities in about six months' time.

We can't force down their throats the comrades we love and prefer

President Jacob Zuma last week said the local government elections would be held three months after May 18, the date of the last polls.

On Wednesday Parliament's Home Affairs Committee said it was worried that millions of eligible voters could be left out of the voters roll and urged political parties to work with the Electoral Commission (IEC) to ensure that the polls are run smoothly.

"All necessary systems are being put in place to ensure that the Electoral Commission continues in its proud tradition of managing and delivering free and fair elections," the committee said.

The IEC said it had bought all the required election registration materials and finalised a network of voting district boundaries for the polls.

IEC said vote counting would start immediately at polling stations and representatives of political parties would co-sign results slips after monitoring the whole process.

Analysts say this year's polls will be the toughest for ANC since the country's first democratic vote in 1994.

The last local government elections in 2011 saw 121 parties vying for seats in municipalities across the country. But in reality the polls were a two-way race between the ANC and the DA.

ANC won the polls with a 63 percent margin and the DA recorded an improved performance in all nine provinces with 21 percent of the vote.

The biggest battles between the ANC, DA and EFF would be in the metropolitan areas of Johannesburg, Tshwane in Gauteng, and Nelson Mandela Bay metro in the Eastern Cape.

Last month, Zuma acknowledged that the polls would be a big test for the ANC. "We said we are the servants of the people. If that is the case, we cannot ignore the views of the people," he said. "We can't force down their throats the comrades we love and prefer".

This year there would be a special interest on young voters as 5.71 million voters aged between 18 and 39 would be eligible to vote.

The first registration exercise would be done on the weekend of March 5 and 6.

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