IEC has enough surplus funds to cover anticipated election shortfalls

The IEC said they have accumulated enough surpluses to fund the anticipated shortfalls for the May 29 elections. Picture: Leon Lestrade/Independent Newspapers

The IEC said they have accumulated enough surpluses to fund the anticipated shortfalls for the May 29 elections. Picture: Leon Lestrade/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 28, 2024


The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said it has accumulated enough surpluses to fund anticipated shortfalls for the upcoming May 29 general and provincial elections.

Briefing the home affairs portfolio committee on Tuesday, CFO Dawn Mbatha said the electoral body had received a R2.3 billion allocation for 2024-25.

She said R30 million was cut from the Budget by the National Treasury.

This was far less than the R281m cut projected by the medium-term expenditure framework in November last year.

“We have absorbed R281m in terms of cuts, including the current R30m cut by the National Treasury,” Mbatha said.

Deputy electoral officer Masego Sheburi said the National Treasury made money available to deliver a decent election despite the difficult fiscus.

“We have on our part created savings that will help us during the lean period if we are to be able to hold them after approval by the National Treasury,” Sheburi said.

Mbatha told the MPs that of the allocated amount, R911.6m would be spent on administration, R1.2bn on electoral operations, R236.9m on outreach and R25m on party funding.

She also said the electoral operations were not fully funded, but will be funded through the retention of surpluses.

Mbatha listed key shortfalls and funding pressures as follows:

  • Financial impact of the amended Electoral Act on various operations areas.
  • Shortfalls due to budget cuts in relation to expansion and electoral staff required to successfully execute elections.
  • Election planning based on the earliest possible date.

However, Mbatha said they have accumulated enough surpluses to fund the anticipated shortfalls for the May 29 elections.

“The main contributing factor that resulted in the surpluses is the straight-lining of the Electoral Commission’s budget allocations.

“Securing approval to retain 2023-24 surpluses will be critical to ensure that the commission delivers on its mandate.”

She noted that elections will take place in May and the approval to retain surpluses would only be considered by the National Treasury after finalisation of the annual financial statement after July 31.

“To mitigate this risk, we will reprioritise projects to any shortfalls that are election related.”

The IEC will still need to continuously retain surplus funds to address deficits in future years in line with electoral cycles, she said.

According to Mbatha, changes to the amended Electoral Act have brought significant financial impact on several key areas.

These included introduction of a third ballot paper to cater for regional ballot papers to be contested by parties and independent candidates for elections to National Assembly and the projected length of the ballot paper that will for the first time accommodate independent candidates.

“The impact of increased and longer ballot papers on other electoral material such as ballot boxes, security seals and ballot booths have financial impact,” Mbatha said.

This also extended to rewriting critical business systems applications and the possibility of increasing the number of staff allocated to count ballots before results are announced, among others.

During her briefing, Mbatha said the budget allocation for the Represented Political Parties’ Fund has been cut by R44m for 2024-25.

The allocation stands at R322m. She also said a R607.2m budget cut across 2025-25 and 2026-27 has resulted in the 2026 local government elections not being fully funded.

DA MP Adrian Roos raised concern that the IEC budget for the 2026 local government elections was not funded and asked if there were discussions with the National Treasury.

ANC MP Brandon Pillay said the IEC should not have received a budget cut.

“They need additional funding. This election is different from another (as the) inclusion of independent candidates gives rise to further costs.

“There should be provision made for additional funding,” Pillay said.

Responding to questions regarding municipal elections funding, Mbatha said they received communication on additional cuts for local government elections in January.

“There is a lot of ongoing discussion with the National Treasury on how we do manage those cuts and how we are going to fund shortfalls for local government election that is coming up,” she said.

Cape Times