SAnews.gov.za (Tshwane)

4 May 2014

South Africa: No Disruptions Tolerated During Elections

Photo: Sofia Tosolari/AllAfrica
Standing in line to vote (file photo).

Government says it will have a zero-tolerance approach towards those who attempt to disrupt the upcoming general election on May 7.

"No one will be allowed to prevent anyone from exercising his or her constitutionally enshrined right to vote. The message that government conveyed and continues to do so is that there will be no tolerance towards those who want to disrupt the elections, in any way or form," said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Saturday.

The minister was speaking to reporters following a visit to the troubled Bekkersdal informal settlement in Gauteng's west rand by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster ministers.

"Security structures have been mobilised and stand ready to act swiftly to remove disruptive elements and ensure that our people feel free and safe to go out and exercise their right to vote," he said.

Led by the Police Minister as the deputy chairperson of the JCPS cluster, the ministers began their visit with an engagement with community leaders before they embarked on a walkabout to the area.

They were well-received by residents who assured them that they will go to the polling stations on May 7 to cast their votes. The JCPS ministers have over the past two weeks visited Kwa-Mashu and Wembezi in KwaZulu-Natal, Mannenberg in the Western Cape, Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape, Freedom Park and Itsoseng in North West and lastly Bekkersdal.

At the engagements they spoke to communities, conducted walkabouts and obtained detailed briefings from security structures on the ground.

A report from security agencies noted that the country is stable and the environment is conducive for successful elections, save for a few areas that have been flagged as hotspots.

"Government calls for peace and all people to be free to exercise their vote freely as part of our democracy consolidation. However, we have noted few incidents of instability," he said.

Following the completion of the engagements across the country, the ministers said the number of hotspots across the country have significantly decreased.

This is informed by the interventions made over the past weeks as a direct consequence of the work by security agencies on the ground and these elections hotspots visits by the ministers, said Minister Mthethwa.

"As the cluster we are humbled by the reception we received in our interactions with the people on the ground."

He said all voting stations and operational centres of the IEC will be secured with appropriate police deployments.

"The SANDF also stands ready to provide additional deployments, in support of the SAPS should the need arise. Provincial Joint Operations are activated across the country and fully operational.

"The security forces and law enforcement agencies stand ready to ensure the elections are safe and secure."

Minister Mthethwa added that the security cluster ministers were confident that Wednesday's elections will run smoothly.

"Government would like to reassure South Africans that the 2014 general elections will be free from any form of intimidation, safe and secured. Accordingly, government urges every eligible voter to go out and exercise his or her constitutional right to vote for the party of his or her choice. Let us strengthen our democracy by excising our civil responsibility."

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