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IEC officially launches 2016 municipal elections

This year the electoral commission expects to have 22,600 voting stations set up across the country.

Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) logo. Picture: Dineo Bendile/EWN.
2016 local government elections,Independent Electoral Commission
Politics Local

MIDRAND - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has officially launched the 2016 municipal elections in Midrand. 

Political party representatives, traditional leaders and IEC officials are gathered at the Gallagher Convention Centre where the state of readiness for the elections has been announced. 

A new communications strategy has also been unveiled, which the IEC says will place particular focus on the youth. 

On 5 and 6 March, eligible South Africans are encouraged to visit their local voting stations to register for this year’s municipal elections. 

The IEC has expressed its confidence in its state of readiness. 

This year the electoral commission expects to have 22,600 voting stations set up across the country, an increase from just over 20,000 in 2011. 

However, the official date for the municipal elections is yet to be announced. 

Deliberations are underway with Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des van Rooyen who will make the final decision on when South Africans cast their ballots. 

Van Rooyen says there are still a number of factors to be considered before a date can be set for this year’s municipal elections.

The registration of voter addresses is one of the main problems facing both the department and the IEC.  

Last year a Constitutional Court ruling identified weaknesses in the IEC’s voters’ roll which allowed voters in seven wards in Tlokwe Municipality to cast their ballot outside their area of residence. 

Minister van Rooyen says alternative methods are being used to register addresses for those who don’t have formal house numbers.

He says an inter-ministerial committee has been set up to complete all final touches ahead of elections.

The final voting date is expected to fall anywhere between 18 May and 16 August.

BIGGEST HURDLE

The IEC says the biggest hurdle it faces on the road to this year’s municipal elections is the registration of addresses for potential voters.

The commission says only 37 percent of South African’s have formal addresses.

The IEC is bound by a High Court ruling to ensure that its register collects adequate information to locate voters within the correct district.

IEC Vice Chair Terry Tselane says in areas where there are no house numbers, landmarks will be used as an address.

“Identify the landmarks in those areas and make sure that the communities understand, recognise and use those landmarks.”

He’s also warned that registering false details is an offence.

“That will actually be a violation of an act, it will be fraud, and appropriate action will be taken against that particular person.”

Despite this challenge the commission says it’s confident in its ability to deliver. 

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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