IEC in KZN calls for tolerance
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday called for political tolerance from all participants in the run-up to next year's elections.
The current term for national and provincial structures ends next April 14. The time-line is that elections can be held within 90 days after this date.
Provincial IEC chairman Mawethu Mosery said he hoped that there would be no violence in the run-up to the elections because the province could not afford political conflicts.
Mosery said a peaceful election was important to the province and country, especially in the run-up and leading to 2010.
"Political parties must go beyond their differences," Mosery said.
He said the IEC would hold regular meetings with political party representatives in the province through the political liaison committee (PLC) to tackle challenges and concerns related to the elections, especially voter education and electioneering campaigns.
"These meetings are important and allow all sides to raise their concerns," he said. "It has been very successful in the past."
Mosery said a key challenge in their voter education campaign was to increase the number of registered voters in the province.
He said R3million had been set aside for the voter education programme. The province has an estimated 5,9million eligible voters but only 3,7million are registered.
"There is a lot to do on this front. Political parties must understand that the party that has the best election manifesto is guaranteed voters," said Mosery.
He also appealed to the province's voters to register. Mosery said the province had a low voter turnout compared with the rest of the country - 72percent.
"Voters must understand that it is their civic duty to vote. Every person's vote is valuable. Our electoral system allows you to vote for a party and not an individual," he said.
The IEC has special programmes to target the youth.
It will also hold two registration drives - one in November and another in February.
Mosery also appealed to business to assist in voter education drives.
"There is no doubt that political stability ensures a smooth election," he said. "Business must come to the party.
"There are civic and non-governmental organisations that business can work with to educate people about the elections."
When asked about the possibility of an early election, given calls by some youth leaders for President Thabo Mbeki to resign, Mosery said such a request involved the dissolution of the current national and provincial government structures.
"While this is possible politically, from a technical perspective there are challenges. Nationally it is easy to dissolve the legislature but provincially it would require a lot of bargaining because a two-thirds majority is required to dissolve the provincial structures," he said,
He said one did not need early elections to change a president.