Captured during the IEC outreach programme and launch of heritage month are: Standing from left to right: Cllr Siyaphi Shirilele, Cllr Rabelani Gadabeni, Khathutshelo Radzilani (IEC), Constable Ellah Tshihanyise (Masisi SAPS) and Abram Rambuda (Department of Social Development). Seated are: Vuledzani Matodzi (IEC), Shonisani Khorommbi (Musina Disability Forum), Dakalo Netshisaulu (IEC) and Debra Mutavhatsindi (Community member).

“Having regular, free and fair elections is one of the cornerstones of democracy. This goes together with other important democratic principles such as the right to vote, to choose which party you want to belong to and to accept the results of an election.” These were the words of Khathutshelo Radzilani, the Outreach and Training Officer of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in the Vhembe district. Radzilani was addressing stakeholders and community members during the IEC outreach programme that was held at Mphephu Youth Centre, Tshipise Tsha Sagole under Musina Municipality. The event was celebrated under the theme: “Embracing our diverse culture.”

Radzilani told delegates that all South African citizens over the age of 18 who are registered voters are allowed to vote in elections. “You need an ID book to vote. Voters are registered to a particular voting district and in local elections may only vote at the voting station in that district. For national and provincial elections voters should still vote where they are registered, but in some cases are allowed to vote outside the voting district if they have proof that they are registered.”

He said South Africa is divided into about 19 000 voting districts, each one with its own voting station. “To vote you have to be on the voters roll for your voting district. You need a green ID book with a bar code, a smart card or a temporary ID document. It is important that we use this right of voting because there are people whom lost their lives fighting for this right.”

IEC Musina Electoral Project Coordinator, Dakala Netshisaulu said the commission (IEC) is happy that they are getting the necessary support from traditional leaders, government departments, community structures and the public. “The IEC is here to serve everyone and this outreach programme is one example of our commitment to meet people. We are humbled by the huge turnout in our various outreach programmes and we thank our stakeholders for their kind support.”

Cllr Siyaphi Shirilele from Musina Municipality commended the IEC outreach programme and added that it promotes democracy. “South Africa is democratic country where our rights are protected by the constitution. This also include the rights of choosing political representatives through the ballot paper. We have to guard jealously against any violation of the constitution because we have fought hard for this democracy.”

Speakers during the event also included representatives from the SAPS, Department of Health, Musina Disability Forum, local traditional authority and the Department of Social Development.