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The Defend our Democracy Campaign and the undersigned organisations call on all civil society formations to join us in observing the upcoming local government elections.
We will be responding to the call by the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to apply for accreditation to monitor the November 1 elections. We urge you to do the same. Visit www.elections.org.za to apply. Forms can also be obtained by sending a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The application process closes on October 1.
We believe that election monitoring work is critical to ensuring that elections are indeed free and fair. The greater the number of election observers in the field in each municipality, the better the chance of raising and containing issues of potential violence or electoral irregularities that may hamper the voting process.
While South Africa has maintained political stability following the failed insurrection, violence and looting in July this year, it is important that this stability is extended through the elections period.
We call on our country’s intelligence services to be well aware of any threats to disrupt elections, and urge law enforcement to swiftly and responsibly respond to issues that may arise on November 1, when South Africans cast their ballots.
Similarly, we implore political parties, candidates and their supporters to conduct their campaigns in a way that exemplifies the spirit of the Constitution. While elections are a time for fierce contestation, this must be done in a manner that is peaceful, that respects the rights of others and that puts the interests of the public first.
We hope that parties and law enforcement will work closely together to root out any potential for politically motivated violence.
We furthermore implore all citizens to during this period be aware of fake news and to always double check the accuracy of social media posts and messages before sharing.
Our message to voters
Our call to all registered voters is to go out and make their mark on November 1. A democracy is only as strong as the involvement of the public, and voting is one of the most important forms of democratic participation.
Going into this election, we encourage you to vote for parties and candidates who you think are able to lead with integrity and govern efficiently and ethically.
We hope that you will evaluate all party manifestos critically, and be ready to challenge candidates both before and post elections once public representatives assume office. While voting is important, being an active citizen, probing local budgets and demanding transparency and accountability is fundamental to ensuring better municipal service provision.
While national attention was primarily focused in the last few years on dealing with the rampant corruption and capture at State Owned Entities, many municipalities have simply become feeding troughs for a few politically connected individuals. The June 2021 Auditor General report indicates that only 27 out of 257 municipalities received a clean audit outcome - an indicator of the sheer lack of accountability and resultant failures in service delivery at a local level.
It pains us that in the 2019/2020 financial year, R26 billion of local government spending was classified irregular. If used more efficiently, consider the difference it could have made to communities in dire need of water, sanitation and other basic services.
We urge you to vote to root out corruption, capture and malfeasance. Vote to ensure that the people in your locality are guaranteed service delivery and accountable governance. Those who are part of organisations, make sure that you register to monitor elections as part of your commitment to ensuring a free and fair elections process.
Issued by the Defend our Democracy campaign and signed by Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Citizens of Conscience Foundation, Media Monitoring Africa and Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse