Voice of America (Washington, DC)

South Africa: Electoral Body to Begin Preparation for Election

South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) plans to close its voter registration list after President Jacob Zuma officially publishes the May 7 general election date in the government's gazette on Tuesday.

"President Jacob Zuma will be proclaiming the election date that means the election date would be published in the government gazette. Our offices will be opened across the country from 8 O'clock until five in the evening," said Kate Bapela, IEC spokesperson. "At 12 midnight, the voters' role for the 2014 national and provincial elections closes [and] that means that anyone who registers after midnight today will never be able to participate in the upcoming election," she said.

The electoral body has been compiling a voters list that would enable prospective South African voters to elect a new National Assembly as well as new provincial legislatures in each province in the May poll.

Bapela says on Wednesday the electoral body will publish an electoral time table guideline as part of its preparations to organize the general election.

Bapela says political parties need to pay attention to the electoral timetable to know when to present nomination papers for their candidates to the IEC in the run up to the elections.

"The electoral timetable allows us to prepare step by step towards the 7th of May," said Bapela. "After all the submissions and after corrections and the final formal vetting has happened, we will publish the names of candidates that would be participating in these elections and after they have been published, then we will start printing the ballot paper for the elections."

Bapela says the IEC will soon begin printing ballot papers for the election.

"It will be immediately after the finalization of the candidates list because at that point we would know which leaders of the political parties must appear on the ballot paper," said Bapela. "Obviously the process of securing our ballot paper [is] quite intense due to our experience in organizing elections so that anyone who tries to reproduce that ballot paper cannot do that."

South African amended its Electoral Act in 2013 to allow citizens living abroad to register and vote in elections at embassies and consulates.

Bapela also outlined "pre-voting" procedures that will allow South Africans in the country as well as those living abroad to vote before the scheduled election date.

"This process we call it a special voting that means that anyone who is outside of South Africa the chief electoral officer will provide a form electronically they can fill to say they request permission to vote before the 7th of May. Once the chief electoral officer has considered the matter, it is only then that they would be allowed to do that," said Bapela.

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