Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

The Independent Electoral Commission says it will struggle to preside over the elections next year if political parties and their supporters transgressed opponents' freedom of choice .

The warning follows on political clashes around the country in the past three weeks, especially in KwaZulu-Natal.

In one incident the IFP accused ANC supporters of damaging a billboard on the South Coast. The ANC denied the claim.

IEC chairman Brigalia Bam appealed to parties to respect the Electoral Code of Conduct, which calls for free political activity and open debate.

"South Africa is suddenly in election mode," she said. "There are signs that we will see robust contestation as we move towards the 2009 elections.

"I cannot preside over an election where freedom of choice is not respected."