Dark shadow cast over in­tegrity of IEC

CityPress - - Voices -

The ad­mis­sion by the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) in court pa­pers that il­le­gal vot­ers had cast their votes in the highly con­tested by-elec­tions in Tlokwe, North West, last year is a cause for con­cern.

In Jan­uary, we ex­posed how as many as 2 500 sus­pected vot­ers could have taken part in the elec­tions in a fraud­u­lent man­ner.

In pa­pers filed in the Elec­toral Court, the IEC has con­ceded that 1 040 in­el­i­gi­ble peo­ple did vote in the by-elec­tions. But it in­sists their par­tic­i­pa­tion did not al­ter the re­sults, which saw the ANC re­tain power in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Op­po­si­tion par­ties in North West had long flagged their sus­pi­cions about ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in a town bit­terly con­tested af­ter in­ter­nal ANC fight­ing led to the DA tak­ing con­trol of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

They were dis­missed as bit­ter losers, al­though lo­cal IEC of­fi­cers were seen by the com­mu­nity to be act­ing in col­lu­sion with the gov­ern­ing party.

The IEC took a while to act on the com­plaints and had to be dragged to court for the truth to come out. It is patently non­sen­si­cal to ar­gue that the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties will not af­fect the out­come of the elec­tions. Elec­tions should be free and fair and above board. There should be no ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties to start with. In this case, a key in­sti­tu­tion in the main­te­nance of our democ­racy has been found want­ing.

Cou­pled with the case in which the Public Pro­tec­tor found im­proper con­duct and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion on the part of IEC chair­per­son Pansy Tlakula over a leas­ing agree­ment, there is rea­son to fear the IEC could be com­pro­mised.

It is time this in­sti­tu­tion took a hard look at it­self and ac­knowl­edged that it has work to do in re­cap­tur­ing the over­whelm­ing trust it once en­joyed among South Africans.

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