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IEC encourages positive media criticism ahead of Local Government Elections


Mohloai Mpesi

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will accept constructive criticism from the media as it prepares for the upcoming Local Government Elections because of the crucial role played by the press in elections processes, particularly educating the public.

“Without media, we will not be able to inform the public about matters related to the Commission and elections, problems that voters encounter, and their expectations from us,” Tuoe HantÅ¡i, the Commission’s Public Relations Manager, made this statement during an IEC workshop in Naleli, Berea, earlier this week.

The workshop aimed to train journalists to accurately report on the elections scheduled for September 29, 2023, and discuss the media’s role during this period.

“We encourage positive criticism as IEC. You are allowed to criticize the politicians, candidates, the public, and the Commission with all due respect. This helps to build and shape our way of doing things as we head to the Local Government Elections,” stated Hantši.

Hantši highlighted the importance of media scrutiny as a vital safeguard against interference or corruption in the management or conduct of the electoral processes.

The Local Government Elections will consist of 76 Councils and 950 Electoral Divisions (ED).

During the workshop, participants examined the consolidated version of the Local Government Elections Act of 1998.

Section 31A of the Act states that if an election fails due to the death of a candidate, no fresh nomination is required for any other candidate who was nominated at the time when the election notice was canceled.

However, any such candidate may choose to withdraw their consent to nomination, and in such cases, the Returning Officer must ensure the return of the deposit lodged for that candidate.

Section 80A of the Act mandates that all political parties and candidates participating in the elections comply with the Code of Conduct set out in the Fourth Schedule.

This code condemns bribery, corrupt practices, personation, undue influence, and other offenses.

The Act also addresses the offense of undue influence, which involves the use of force, violence, restraint, or fraudulent means to induce or compel someone to vote or refrain from voting at an election.

Such actions are punishable under section 54 of the Act.

As the IEC and the media work together to ensure fair and transparent elections, the workshop served as an opportunity to promote understanding and cooperation between the two entities.

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