With South Africa set to hold local government elections on Wednesday, the government has called on all eligible voters to turn up in numbers to cast their votes.

“We encourage all eligible voters, particularly the youth, to come out on Wednesday and vote, and welcome voters in Vuwani (the scene of recent violence) who have committed to express their voice peacefully through the ballot, says Acting Cabinet Spokesman Donald Liphoko.

“While the country is making progress in ensuring that these elections are conducted in a peaceful environment, government has noted that there are still a few disgruntled elements focused on disrupting elections in our communities,” he said said here over the weekend.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has already officially launched the National Results Operations Centre in Pretoria. According to the IEC, they have received more than 740,000 special vote applications, which is three times the number of 2011.

Communities are encouraged to report any incidents of intimidation to the nearest police station. The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster of departments has put measures in place to ensure the safety of voters during the elections.

About 100,000 police officers will be on election duty this week with more than 50,000 police officers on duty at voting stations across the country, while the rest will be mobile so that they can respond to situations should they occur. Police will also be deployed to known hot spots.

Officers will also undertake duties such as escorting IEC officials, undertaking patrols, securing ballot papers and protecting electoral staff.

“The Government further commends the IEC and the country’s law enforcement officers for the swift and efficient manner in which they handled the recent incident where boxes containing ballot papers were stolen from a delivery vehicle in Soweto,” said Liphoko.

“As government, we have full confidence in the IEC and we have no doubt that it will conduct free and fair elections. The Government will not tolerate any action aimed at disrupting the elections and will ensure that those who aim to disrupt these elections face the full might of the law. We also call on all political parties to abide by the IEC code of conduct and to raise any breaches swiftly with the IEC. Let’s work together to ensure a successful election, where the voices of all 26 million voters can be counted.”

The 2016 Municipal Elections are an opportunity for South Africans to have a direct say in who runs their community and ward. The councillors South Africans elect will serve on the town, city, metropolitan and district councils.

The IEC says it has 26,333,3535 voters on the electoral roll, or approximately 77 per cent of the eligible voting population. The IEC has a record 22,612 polling stations, a record number of parties contesting the elections at 204 (68 per cent more than 2011), a record number of candidates at 63,654 (18 per cent more than 2011) competing for a record number of councillor positions (9,301) and a record number of independent candidates at 855 compared with 754 in 2011.