IEC voices ‘grave concern’ at pre-election violence
The Independent Electoral Commission has noted with “grave concern” the rising levels of violence and intimidation characterising political and campaign activities ahead of the 2016 Municipal Elections.
“Incidents of what appear to be politically-motivated murders‚ assaults and other forms of intimidation of candidates have been reported across a number of provinces including Gauteng‚ KwaZulu-Natal‚ Mpumalanga and the North West over the past few days‚” said the IEC in a statement on Wednesday.
The commission said that it condemned “in the strongest possible terms” all unlawful conduct and behaviour that contravened the Electoral Code of Conduct and undermined free and fair elections.
“Violence‚ intimidation‚ destruction of property and intolerance have no place in a country with a Constitution based on respect for human rights‚ the rule of law and democracy. That some of these acts are being carried out under the guise of ‘defending democratic processes’ is all the more shameful and incongruent with our democracy‚” said the IEC.
The commission urged political leaders and candidates to speak out strongly against any conduct which undermined conditions that were conducive to free and fair elections.
“Political leaders are ultimately responsible for the conduct of their supporters and members‚” it warned. Infringements of the Code of Conduct carry severe penalties including disqualification from elections. “Any criminal conduct may lead to prosecution and penalties including fines and jail terms.
“Any alleged criminal conduct should immediately be reported to the nearest police station. To help the Electoral Commission monitor and track investigations‚ those who report cases to the police are urged to email the case number and information to the Electoral Commission on firstname.lastname@example.org‚” said the IEC.
Aggrieved parties can also take alleged violations of the Code of Conduct to the Electoral Court which has wide ranging powers to impose severe penalties.
Members of the public may approach the Electoral Court directly on 051 412 7400 to report violations of the Code of Conduct.