A FOUN­DA­TION FOR THE NA­TION

Du­misane Lu­bisi

CityPress - - Voices -

I am a lit­tle ner­vous. I’m try­ing to think why. Maybe there are too many peo­ple com­ing. Maybe peo­ple might ask me dif­fi­cult ques­tions, which I want to make sure I an­swer.

How did the book come about?

The book has been writ­ten for many rea­sons. It is writ­ten to share sto­ries with the younger gen­er­a­tion. I hope it would be of in­ter­est for gen­er­a­tions to come to know that once upon a time as a na­tion we were or­gan­is­ing our­selves to go to elec­tions, which wasn’t easy.

I want to share the things that hap­pened at that time when we were try­ing to be a na­tion. For in­stance, when we were try­ing to cre­ate a vot­ers’ roll – which was very use­ful to make us a na­tion be­cause we had dif­fer­ent IDs as South Africans.

An ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that the young peo­ple would not be­lieve is that once upon a time we were liv­ing in dif­fer­ent places. In vil­lages, we didn’t have bound­aries, didn’t have mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, we didn’t have coun­cil­lors.

It is re­ally for them to see what we have achieved in the past 21 years.

Why write the book now?

My bi­og­ra­phy was my ma­jor pre­oc­cu­pa­tion in the be­gin­ning, and we had to get that done.

It never oc­curred to me that I should write a book on elec­tions. It was not my idea, but that of Rich Mkhondo, who had worked with us for a very long time. The idea was very much sup­ported by the pub­lish­ers. It was his idea be­cause he loves elec­tions – any­thing that has to do with elec­tions he writes about – and he was also a speech writer at the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion. So, with that en­thu­si­asm on his part, we started on the book.

One of the things you write about is the lim­i­ta­tion of a pres­i­den­tial term. What in­formed that?

What I re­ally hope for is not to an­noy peo­ple who would like to do things dif­fer­ently, but give an op­por­tu­nity to South Africans to do a num­ber of things.

One is to re­visit the elec­toral sys­tem be­cause this sys­tem was set up and it was won­der­ful, and served us so well in the be­gin­ning. Be­cause we didn’t know each other, we had no ex­pe­ri­ence in choos­ing our own can­di­dates, we were di­vided and we didn’t even have cri­te­ria.

We didn’t even have the num­ber of par­ties that we now have. Maybe as we are re­vis­it­ing the sys­tem, a lot of other things in the jour­ney of learn­ing will come up be­cause we are only 21. I think that this will open a fair dis­cus­sion.

South Africans might say to us that we are not ready as peo­ple at lo­cal gov­ern­ment level to find suit­able peo­ple. They might say we are not ready to set the cri­te­ria of a coun­cil­lor we want, we are very happy with the per­son who the party de­cides for us.

But what I think South Africans are also say­ing to us is that they want to par­tic­i­pate in the ap­point­ment of the peo­ple who lead them. As I was in this job, I was hear­ing peo­ple say they were also look­ing for peo­ple who were ac­count­able to us.

I be­lieve we are ca­pa­ble peo­ple and I think South Africans are ready to coin their own mixed elec­toral sys­tem.

Is the in­tegrity of the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) in­tact, and can it be trusted?

The in­sti­tu­tion is solid. It is trust­wor­thy. In­sti­tu­tions are run by hu­man be­ings and not each and ev­ery hu­man be­ing is the same. We have to de­pend on an in­di­vid­ual when you have temp­ta­tions re­lated to peo­ple who are in­flu­enc­ing you to do things that are against the law.

I do not wish to give up on us as a to­tal in­sti­tu­tion. I trust that this in­sti­tu­tion will re­main trusted, will re­main

solid and de­pen­dent, and will re­main trans­par­ent.

Can we do more to strengthen the in­de­pen­dence of the IEC?

Ac­tu­ally, we are very for­tu­nate if you com­pare us with the rest of the world. What we have in South Africa is good. We have best pro­vi­sion in the Con­sti­tu­tion to keep our in­de­pen­dence. The head of state can­not dic­tate to the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion when the re­sults should be an­nounced. In other coun­tries, if the head of state is ner­vous about not win­ning, he will tell the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion not to make the an­nounce­ment. Not in

this coun­try, no mat­ter what.

What do you miss about the job as chair­per­son?

As an ob­server mem­ber for the African Union now, what I miss most is my world-class team from South Africa. I wish they could come with me when I go to other coun­tries to as­sess their elec­tions, and help me give sup­port to these coun­tries. That is what I miss most. I do not miss other things.

PHOTO: LUCKY NXUMALO

Bri­galia Bam

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