IEC makes ‘significant changes’ on logistical arrangements for by-elections amid COVID-19 pandemic

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The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says significant changes have been made on logistical arrangements for Wednesday by-elections as the country is in the middle of the pandemic.

At least 12 by-elections will be held in different municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal.

The IEC says COVID-19 regulations will be observed to the latter in voting stations.

The IEC in KwaZulu-Natal says it had to alter its normal logistics for the elections due to health and safety regulations that should be adhered to due to Coronavirus.

At least 142 000 registered voters are expected to cast their ballots.

IEC Assistant Manager for Outreach DR. Nonhlanhla Hlongwane says all COVID-19 measures will be observed in all voting stations.

“Voters that do not have masks will not be allowed to enter the voting stations. We have provided masks for IEC officials and hand sanitizers that are alcohol-based will also be used. The scanning of the ID has been revised as well. We are maintaining the distance, that the scanning will just have to be such that the voter presents the ID in a manner that it does (not) involve the official handling the ID. The inking is not going to be done using the indelible pen that we are used to. The change is that instead of the pen we are providing the cotton buds to mark the left thumb finger; and the cotton bud is going to be disposed of after each use.”

Dr. Hlongwane says the IEC will use the Wednesday by-elections as a dry run on how to put together logistical arrangements for next year’s municipal elections. It will be the first time that the IEC to organise elections in the middle of a pandemic.

“We want to use that as a dipstick for us to make changes where necessary for local government elections in 2021. We want to remove all the teething problems that we may encounter and therefore, that is why we want all our people in those affected wards to come out in their numbers to vote and report any type of discomfort that they experience so that we can correct that as we go along,” explains Dr Hlongwane.

On Tuesday, 2 300 voters will cast their special votes, while on Wednesday the voting stations will open at 07h00 and close at 21h00.

 IEC says it’s all systems go for Wednesday’s by-elections:

Meanwhile, the IEC in the Western Cape says it has put in place measures to ensure that voters casting their ballots do so in a safe environment.

By-elections will be held in 11 wards in Cape Town, George, Knysna and Saldanha Bay. Provincial Electoral Officer, Courtney Sampson, says staff members have been trained to observe all protocols aimed to protect everyone coming into a voting station.

Sampson says voters will be expected to wear masks, sanitise and maintain social distancing to prevent spreading the coronavirus.

6 000 registered in Mpumalanga

The IEC in Mpumalanga says about 6 000 people registered to vote at Emalahleni. IEC Mpumalanga spokesperson is Sibusiso Nkosi says,

“These wards are going to be contested by five political parties which are the African Federal Convention, the ANC, the DA, the EFF and FF plus. Ward 23 will be contested by three parties which are ANC, EFF and the African Federal Convention.”

Residents of Vosman in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, have called on the councillors to play a meaningful role in creating business opportunities, especially for young people.

The Emalahleni Municipality is among municipalities that are often accused of failing to deliver basic services. For many years, the municipality has struggled to maintain a sewerage system. Some residents complain about the lack of proper roads.

One of the concerned residents, Mahero Sekgala has accused previous councillors of failing to prioritise the needs of the community says, “Especially the issues of poor service delivery, there are potholes all over in Witbank and we don’t have water. The is a shortage of clinics.” -Additional reporting by Mthobisi Mkhaliphi 

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