IEC de­clares 2016 elec­tion sea­son open

CityPress - - Voices -

Elec­tion sea­son is upon us. This week, the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) launched the road to the 2016 lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions, re­as­sur­ing South Africans that polls would be free and fair.

After get­ting a blood­ied nose from the Con­sti­tu­tional Court, be­ing scan­dalised by its for­mer head Pansy Tlakula and with some peo­ple ques­tion­ing the in­de­pen­dence of chair Glen Mashinini – a for­mer ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Jacob Zuma – the IEC was at pains to stress that the elec­tions would be con­ducted with the high­est in­tegrity.

This is the first time the IEC has had to go to these lengths to as­sure us of its cred­i­bil­ity. It is per­haps a good and a bad thing. It is good be­cause it means ev­ery­one will be alert to the slight­est shenani­gans by of­fi­cials at vot­ing sta­tions. It is bad be­cause it means a great in­sti­tu­tion has been daubed with the paint of doubt.

As Mashinini said at this week’s launch, these polls will be a lit­mus test for the IEC as it seeks to prove that it will con­tinue to de­liver cred­i­ble elec­tions – as it has since its in­cep­tion two decades ago. What he did not say was that it would be a lit­mus test for him be­cause he must win over those who be­lieve he was placed there by his for­mer boss to en­sure that the ANC rules un­til the son of Mary and Joseph re­turns.

Inas­much as it is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the IEC to de­liver free and fair elec­tions, it is also the duty of po­lit­i­cal par­ties to en­sure that the out­come truly rep­re­sents the will of the peo­ple. To this end, the par­ties must re­frain from un­demo­cratic prac­tices like cre­at­ing no-go ar­eas, re­sort­ing to vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion, buy­ing vot­ers with state re­sources, and ma­nip­u­lat­ing elec­toral of­fi­cials.

But the main re­spon­si­bil­ity rests with the vot­ers, who must use this op­por­tu­nity to speak their minds with a sim­ple X.

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