South Africans return to the polls

Political parties have during the past four years been involved in far reaching preparations for the upcoming local government elections in 2016 with the pace increasing as the years went by.

However, the momentum increased significantly this year when President Jacob Zuma declared August 3 as the date on which South Africans will go to the polls to vote for their preferred municipal councillors and political parties to lead local government development at various municipalities.

And since that announcement, it has been dog eats dog as political party leaders took to the streets in different provinces, cities, towns, townships, villages and small dorpies campaigning hard to try and convince the electorate to vote for them and their parties.
It had become obvious throughout the preparation and vigorous campaigning process that this would be the hottest contested election since South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994.

The 2016 elections have created a lot of challenges for all political parties including the governing ANC and its immediate main oppositions in the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) while smaller parties like the UDM, IFP, ACDP, COPE, PAC and others were merely hoping to increase their voters while even smaller ones are still hoping to form coalitions.

In the North West, smaller parties and Independent candidates in Dr Kenneth Kaunda district (Klerksdorp) decided this week to club together in their attempts to gunner as many votes as possible with the hope of toppling or unsettling the ANC and others.

Perhaps the most difficult task is for the overseers of the elections, the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa,(IEC) who not only has to work very hard to convince South Africans that it is indeed an independent body operating separately from any political party or organisation.

The IEC has to prove to all and sundry that contrary to so called “popular belief”, that they are not and have never been positively linked to the ruling ANC despite arguments from independent candidates in especially Potchefstroom, the DA, EFF, COPE, UDM and others.

South Africans are demanding that the IEC must deliver elections which are free and fair, elections which are free from any vote-rigging, elections which are not bias and does not favour certain contesting parties like the ANC. A Constitutional Court judgement in 2013 has already found that an election was not free and fair and the IEC must wake-up if they hope to continue to protecting their integrity and continue to be respected custodians of all election processes in Mzansi.

As part of the intensity around the election debate, the DA and EFF have assured the IEC that they will be closely monitoring the election process and especially the counting of votes to “make double sure that there is fair play from the IEC”.

All in all, this time around, it will certainly not be clear sailing for the ANC. All parties contesting the 2016 municipal election believe that they have done their homework through full scale interaction with eligible voters which included door-to-door visits to urge the electorate to support them in yet another historic election.