Traditional leaders can help 'ramp up' voting in 2021 elections, says IEC

10 November 2020 - 16:22
IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini has appealed to traditional leaders to promote free political activity.
IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini has appealed to traditional leaders to promote free political activity.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The Electoral Commission of SA  (IEC) wants traditional leaders to help ramp up voting and act as mediators between political parties in the 2021 local government elections.

IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini presented plans to traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday. He outlined key challenges for the IEC as it prepares for the elections. These include:

  • heightened political contestation and litigation;
  • declining voter registration and turnout;
  • demarcation disputes;
  • social unrest; and
  • political violence/intraparty conflict.

Mashinini called on traditional leaders to help with some of the challenges.

“As members of the provincial house of traditional leaders, you play an important role in the electoral process.”

He said the IEC would rely on traditional leaders for ramping up voting and conflict resolution to ensure free and fair elections, adding that traditional leaders could help in mediating among parties.

“As has happened in previous elections, we appeal to the traditional leadership to work with us in promoting free political activity in the province. Participation by traditional leaders in elections and being seen to support the process is a vital element of encouraging participation and trust in elections,” he said.

Part of the IEC's key innovations ahead of the election include a revamped public website and app for improved navigation and communication.

“New-generation technology will allow for enhanced voter registration and monitoring of voter participation in real time — to serve as an online real time voters' roll on election day to prevent multiple voting and to provide further demographic details of voter participation,” said Mashinini.

The IEC believes that to further democratic gains, South Africans must actively play a part in the upcoming elections.

Mashinini explained the importance of participating in local government elections.

“The absence of constituencies in national and provincial elections means the first and closest point of contact which voters have with their representatives are municipal councillors.”

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