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Commission urges political parties to live up to the spirit of the Electroral Code of Conduct

Political parties must live up to spirit of the Electoral Code of Conduct

Metaphoric threats of violence, using language that suggests members of the opposition are enemies, removal of opposition election posters, booing and heckling of the opposition during campaigning - undermine the spirit of tolerance.

Friday. 15 April 2011. Johannesburg. The SA Human Rights Commission Chairperson Adv. Lawrence Mushwana commends leaders of different political parties who will be contesting this year's Local Government Elections for their signing of the Electoral Code of Conduct.

In terms of the code the parties have committed themselves to promote a political environment that is free of violence and intimidation ahead of the elections which will be held on 18th May this year.

Section 19 of the constitution provides that every citizen is free to make political choices which include: the right to form a political party, participate in the activities of, or recruit members for a political party, and to campaign for a political party.

Adv. Mushwana acknowledges the fact that political activity is by its nature contested and as a result political parties will engage in debate that is robust and colourful. He however, cautions parties against using rhetoric that is laced with violent imagery directed at specific and named human targets as this is not a sign of a lively discourse but of criminality.

“We want to make it clear that this should not be understood as a ban on free speech but rather a call for all those in positions of influence to use public platforms responsibly during the elections,” he said.

Metaphorically threatening violence, calling members of the opposition names and using language that seeks to suggest the opposition is the enemy, as has been the practice in recent times, goes against the spirit tolerance and is unjustifiable.

“The Commission commits itself to work with the Independent Electoral Commission and other stakeholders to ensure that political parties and their members who violate the provisions of the code are held to account.”

Ends

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