South Africa Ready for “Super Wednesday” By-Elections – Mamabolo

IEC ready for ‘Super Wednesday’ by-elections: Mamabolo.

THE Independent Electoral Commission said the organization is ready to conduct one of the biggest number of by-elections in the history of the country on ‘Super Wednesday’.

The elections on Wednesday are set to take place in over 90 wards across 55 municipalities.

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The commission’s chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo told the media in Centurion on Monday that these are the first by-elections since the interruption by Covid-19.  

“The Electoral Commission is confident that the by-elections will be free, fair and safe as long as all stakeholders conform to the strict safety measures and protocols put in place at voting stations,” he said.

The by-elections are the first to be held since election activities were suspended in March this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are a “catch-up” of all by-elections postponed between March and September.

Of the 95 by-elections, 20 are in the Northern Cape across 8 municipalities, 19 are in the Eastern Cape across 13 municipalities, 14 are in Gauteng across 6 municipalities, 12 are in KwaZulu-Natal across 9 municipalities, while 11 are in the Western Cape across 5 municipalities.

Other are set to take place in the North West across four municipalities, five are in Mpumalanga across 3 municipalities,  four are in Limpopo across for municipalities, while four are in the Free State across 3 municipalities

The by-elections include two dissolved councils in the Northern Cape where PR candidates must also be elected (9 PR seats in Phokwane and 3 PR seats in Renosterberg).

Voting is scheduled to take place between 7am and 9pm in 455 voting stations of which 233 (51%) are in schools, 65 (14%) are in places of worship and 157 (35%) are in other structures.

The results of the by-elections are expected to be announced by midday on Thursday.

The Electoral Commission said it was confident that all logistical, human resource and safety preparations are in place to ensure free, fair and safe elections on Wednesday.

“Adequate planning and preparations are necessary but not sufficient for successful elections. We also need voters to turn out in numbers to participate to give credibility and legitimacy to the outcome – especially in ward by-elections where victory can be determined by a handful of votes,” said Mamambolo.

“The Electoral Commission appeals to all roleplayers – election staff, voters, party agents, candidates and observers – to abide by all the electoral laws and regulations including the Code of Conduct.”

He added: “And they must work with us to support and conform to the new COVID-19 protocols designed to ensure everyone’s safety. Wednesday’s by-elections are our first under COVID conditions. Unfortunately, they will not be the last. These by-elections are a test for all stakeholders ahead of future by-elections and for next year’s Local Government Elections.”

“With everyone’s cooperation we believe this week’s by-elections will provide a successful template for the planning and holding of free, fair and safe.”

Writing in The Conversation recently, UNISA’s professor Dirk Kotze said the ANC faces even more woes in the upcoming by-elections.

He said President Cyril Ramaphosa is at a delicate point in his efforts to turn the tide against corruption.

Evidence is already emerging of a fight-back campaign by several leading ANC members, including former president Jacob Zuma, whose vested interests are threatened by Ramaphosa’s anti-corruption drive, said Kotze.

He said previous experiences of acrimonious nomination processes in the ANC during municipal elections raise red flags for a similar process in the near future.

“In the past, the process exposed deep divisions within the party, even political killings. An election in 2021 would also pose a challenge for the parties as they could not yet successfully address the negative consequences of the 2016 municipal elections. These saw the ANC lose its absolute majorities in Johannesburg, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Ekhurhuleni metros,” said Kotze.

“At the same time, the DA’s coalitions and cooperation with the EFF in most of these metros have failed. The EFF could not sustain its kingmaker role in these the metros, and also failed to secure executive positions for its councillors. Neither of these parties has since improved its position in the metros.”


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