Election fever – lessons for 2005 Local Government Elections

The national elections have come and gone. Already political parties are bracing themselves for the next round – the 2005 local government elections. In KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Western Cape , the tables have turned. For the ANC it is a very well deserved victory. It now has the opportunity to assert its leadership in traditionally hostile territory.

But will this trend continue at the level of local government? The ANC is confident that it will.

Meanwhile the movement needs to reflect on campaign strategies and possibilities to increase its electoral support in the 2005 local government elections.

The ANC-led alliance must do everything possible to avoid the mistakes of 2004.

In KZN, mechanisms must be put in place to train party agents and have them accredited well before the date of elections.

Party agents are tasked with many duties and have to be familiar with voting procedure and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) rules to ensure that voting is free and fair.

Numeracy is of the utmost importance. Party agents have to reconcile voting rolls with the number of electoral forms supplied. They must ensure that ballot boxes are properly sealed and delivered to the counting stations. The capacity to record irregularities and register complaints with the presiding officer is just as important. It doesn’t help to train party agents at the last moment.

The issue of deployment also raises a number of concerns. Some of the cadres whose names appeared on the deployment list didn’t pitch up at the point of departure. Luckily there were substitutes. But the ANC must not bank on substitutes. The task team responsible for elections must ensure that coordination is smooth and resources available, particularly when people are being deployed to monitor voting in the northern and rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal .

Preparing for elections in a province such as KZN is a logistical nightmare. But the ANC has proved that they are capable of winning this province. All that now remains is to strengthen and consolidate their gains at local government level and to deliver on their election manifesto.

Woody Aroun is KZN regional education officer