Special voting kicks off in South Africa

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has appealed to political parties to reduce political activities to allow space for voting to take place peacefully.

The plea comes as 770 000 voters are set to cast their votes in the country’s 22 924 voting stations today and tomorrow and Election Day on 8 May.

“At all times, any hindrance or obstructions in the work of the Commission in the exercising of its duties is prohibited. The Electoral Act (73 of 1997) also specifically prohibits political meetings, marches, demonstrations or any other political event taking place on voting day. It also prohibits strikes and lockouts in the public transport and telecommunications sectors,” said the IEC on Sunday.

“While strictly speaking this applies only to Wednesday, 8 May, voting will be taking place at voting stations and through home visits on Monday and Tuesday when we expect over 770 000 voters to cast their ballots,” explained Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo in the statement.

“The time for robust campaigning has ended. Now is the time for voting. Let’s give voters the time and space to consider their options and make their choices this week in an atmosphere of peaceful reflection,” he said.

The Commission has also urged communities not to engage in any civil unrest, protests or demonstrations that may impact on electoral operations.

“We have engaged with the security agencies, including the South African Police Service, to ensure that no disruptions to the elections are tolerated.”

The Commission reminded employers that the right of citizens to vote is constitutionally protected and paramount.

“The declaration of Election Day as a public holiday is to ensure every voter has the opportunity to exercise their right to vote and this takes priority over any business activities this week.

“This is especially important for workers in the mining, agriculture, retail and tourism industries. It is an offence to prevent access to voting stations by voters, political parties, election officials and observers.”

The Commission has also cautioned voters against disinformation and fake news reports designed to undermine the smooth election process after rumours surfaced this weekend that State pension payments would be delayed this week.

“The Commission has confirmed with the Minister for Social Development, Susan Shabangu, that pension payments will be made as scheduled on Monday and Tuesday.”

The Commission has warned voters not to be duped by disinformation, including about voting hours. Special voting will take place on Monday and Tuesday from 9am to 5pm, and voting on Election Day — 8 May — takes place from 7am to 9pm.

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