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South Africa votes on April 14th
11/2/2004
 
 

Opposition political parties on Monday welcomed President Thabo Mbeki's announcement that the 2004 national and provincial general election will take place on April 14, saying they are ready for it.

Democratic Alliance election campaign chairman James Selfe said his party had already launched its campaign and had everything in place to run a highly effective and successful one. "The ANC has been put on notice. It has had ten years of broken promises and failures to deliver. South Africa deserves better. "The Democratic Alliance will take its offer of real change across the length and breadth of South Africa over the next nine weeks -- to every township, village and suburb,"Selfe said.

New National Party leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk, said the NNP was "battle-ready and fighting fit".While other parties had wasted energy either trying to predict the date or bemoan the fact that they had been kept in the dark for too long, the NNP had been in the field, campaigning for a number of weeks already, and Mbeki's announcement would add even greater energy to the NNP's efforts.

"Election 2004 will be a turning point, especially for non-ANC voters, for whom the NNP offers real relevance and a strong voice in government. The choice is clear, the date is set and the NNP is battle-ready and fighting-fit," Van Schalkwyk said.

However, National Action leader Cassie Aucamp said the date came as no surprise, because it was clear from the start the ANC had an obsession with having the election coincide with the ten years of freedom celebrations. The ANC wanted to cash in on the euphoria accompanying the celebrations. In terms of the Constitution, the election could have taken place as late as August, and the NA believed it was being held "over hastily", Aucamp said.

Mbeki announced the date in a statement to the Assembly at the start of debate on his state of the nation address.He said the date had been decided in consultation with the independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the nine provincial premiers.

The date would be gazetted on Wednesday, after the national and provincial legislatures had approved the necessary dissolution resolutions.Therefore, the voters roll would be closed at midnight on Wednesday, Mbeki said.

ANC Chief Whip Nathi Nhleko then moved a motion proposing the House dissolve itself in terms of the Constitution. The motion also noted that the House remained competent to function until the day before the first day of polling for the next Assembly.Further, it proposed suspending certain rules to prevent bills and other business from lapsing when the House was dissolved. The motion was adopted without dissent. ęSAPA

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