IFP ready for local election battle - Narend Singh
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The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has consistently maintained that the Party – and all its structures – would be ready to contest the Local Government Elections, regardless of whether they happened in 2021 or 2022.
Despite our hope that due to the health risks posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the local government elections would be postponed until 2022, the Constitutional Court, on Friday, September 3, 2021, dismissed the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s (IEC) application for a postponement. As we have said in the past, we, as the IFP, have the utmost respect for the rule of law, and will abide by the decision of the Court.
However, we have gone on record to state that the IFP rejects the IEC’s interpretation of the Constitutional Court judgment, particularly their decision to reopen the candidate nomination process. We believe that this is a political, not a legal, decision. The IFP is currently considering the best possible legal avenues regarding the IEC’s amendments to the election timetable.
The IFP is strongly opposed to the ANC being given a ‘second chance’ to register candidates when this was not the case for the NFP in 2016 or the IFP in 2011. The Constitutional Court judgment allowed for amendments to the election timetable, as necessary, and as there was no opportunity for an in-person voter registration weekend, it is reasonable for this to be included.
While we respect the right of citizens to exercise their political rights, we must also recognise that even under ideal conditions, not every eligible voter will register to vote. In 2016, the voters’ roll contained 26 333 353 registered voters. Surprisingly, as of September 7, despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the 2021 voters’ roll stood at 25 654 362 registered voters.
The IFP would like to suggest to the IEC that they take a more innovative and proactive approach to voter registration, particularly for first-time voters. The IEC and Home Affairs systems should be linked, with a mechanism put in place to automatically register our youth when they apply for their identification documents.
This will kill two birds with one stone and still afford everyone their constitutionally enshrined right to vote, should they choose to do so.
Regarding the candidate nomination process, it is not accurate to state that there was no opportunity to register candidates. The candidate nomination process opened on August 3, 2021, and political parties and independent candidates had until August 23, 2021, to submit their lists of candidates and nomination documents.
This means they had 20 days to fulfil this requirement, a legally binding requirement as per the election timetable. There were also options for both in-person and online submissions of the candidate lists.
The overwhelming majority of parties were able to submit their lists on time.
To serve one’s community is not traditionally a decision made overnight. Surely, anyone who takes this responsibility seriously and with hopes of being nominated as a candidate would have been preparing and lobbying for nomination well in advance. Surely, they would have paid special attention to deadlines for the submission of candidate lists and would have ensured that they were registered to vote in the Ward they intended to contest?
Considering the above, we do not believe it is reasonable to re-open the candidate nomination process.
Further, the IFP has expressed deep concern regarding the impact the amendments made by the IEC to the election timetable will have on the credibility of the IEC, as well as the upcoming local government elections.
However, in the interim, the IFP is not resting on its laurels.
All IFP structures, from Ward level to our Members of Parliament, are being galvanised into action to ensure that our candidates are election-ready and have the best possible support as they embark upon their campaign activities.
The IFP will be adopting a hybrid approach to campaigning, with heightened social media and online activity. However, we are aware that our core constituency and traditional voter base may not have access to all the online platforms. We will, therefore, be campaigning in person too, but will ensure that we adhere to all Covid-19 guidelines and precautions to ensure the safety of our constituents, as well as our candidates.
The IFP’s next significant local government elections milestone will be the upcoming voter registration weekend, scheduled for September 18 and 19, 2021. In the interests of the health and wellbeing of all those who need to register, we are encouraging online voter registration, where possible.
However, for the many thousands of South Africans who will need to make their way to one of the IEC’s 23 151 voting stations to register, we cannot stress the importance of adhering to all Covid-19 protocols enough. We call upon all South Africans to sanitise or wash their hands regularly, wear their masks, and adhere to social distancing regulations.
The IFP exists as a political party to serve the people of South Africa, and to do so in the spirit of ubuntu/botho. Our primary purpose is to serve. It is why we exist. We contest elections, and we seek power to serve the people by addressing their needs.
We are servants, not masters, of the people.
We, in the IFP, will listen, and importantly, we will do, we will act, we will work, we will serve.
Our call to all those that love South Africa is to join hands in partnership with the IFP to fix that which is broken in our country and to strengthen that which is functional.
IFP National Campaign Committee Chairperson
Narend Singh, MP