IEC will go to court over bad behaviour in elections run-up

Deputy electoral officer Masego Sheburi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ Independent Newspapers

Deputy electoral officer Masego Sheburi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 20, 2024


The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said on Tuesday it would not hesitate to approach the Electoral Court when it had evidence of conduct that was prohibited in the electoral code.

“Our approach to the Electoral Court must be based on evidence that can withstand rigour and scrutiny of the court. Only they can impose sanctions.

“Where we have evidence ... the commission will not waiver to act in the interest of free and fair elections,” deputy electoral officer Masego Sheburi said.

He responded to questions from MPs when the IEC briefed the home affairs portfolio committee on its readiness to conduct the May 29 elections.

The MPs wanted to know what the IEC was planning to do regarding the threats made by the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party against the electoral process if its leader Jacob Zuma was barred from contesting the elections, among other things.

Commissioner Janet Love said the difficulties and requirement to ensure the commission gets enough evidence could not be overemphasised.

“We have been working within the framework of alternative dispute resolution mechanism and engagement being pursued with staff of the commission working with NGOs more at local level.

“That is a process we will continue with,” Love said.

Sheburi also said the IEC was working with the security cluster through the inter-ministerial committee that was ensuring there was peace in the country even during the election period.

Asked about the impact of the looming court challenge pertaining to party funding in the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill, Sheburi said the IEC did not take issue with people taking matters to court and getting adjudication.

“The issue becomes timing. If you go to court too close to elections, it has the effect of impacting voter behaviour and creating uncertainty among the voting public, which we can ill afford,” he said.

“We would rather have persons go to court than to make spurious allegations that are unsupported,” Sheburi added.

Opposition parties have threatened to take the legal route should Parliament pass the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill, which is now before the NCOP.

The bill has made changes to the party funding formula to the dislike of smaller parties.

The DA has also taken the IEC to the Electoral Court over its request for more voting stations overseas.

Briefing the committee earlier, Sheburi said they were done with procuring electoral materials and confirming voting stations as their election preparations started 18 to 24 months ago.

He said the ballot paper printing capacity was in place, awaiting final conclusion of the candidate nomination process to enable award of quantities to the printers.

“We will print at six sites spread across the country. The ballot paper printing will commence not later than April 10 and conclude not later than May 8,” he said.

“We think we have made proper arrangements to print the 18 different ballot papers in different sizes. We will print no less than 90 million ballot papers,” he said.

Sheburi said they were yet to finalise the mitigation plan of load shedding on voting and counting of results.

“We are making contingency plans to enable that after finishing the voting process, we start results capturing without undue delay.”

There were 27.5 million on the voters roll. At least 42% of the persons on the voters roll was made up of persons aged between 18 and 39.

There will be 23 292 voting stations, with 932 being temporary and 32 being mobile.

Deputy electoral officer Mawethu Mosery explained that it was the IEC’s role to invite domestic and international observers to the elections, not a role extended to political players.

Mosery said the Department of International Relations and Co-operation also invited observers and focused on multilateral formations.

Love said the IEC received a number of application for observer status.

“So far the commission has given go-ahead for 52 organisations,” she said.

The DA caused a stir when it invited G7 governments, the EU and other states to support civil society election observers.

Cape Times