Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is forced to pay millions of rands for its offices despite wanting to be released from its lease agreement.

The High Court in Pretoria decided that the IEC must adhere to its contract with a company that had been found to have an invalid lease deal with the IEC by the public protector.

In its annual report tabled in Parliament, the IEC said it had incurred irregular expenditure of R71million for the 2018 financial year.

“Of this, R40m is the current year expenditure in relation to the Riverside Office Park transaction.

Following the report of the public protector and the forensic audit commissioned by National Treasury in December 2014, members of the commission approached the High Court to set aside the Riverside Office Park lease agreement,” said the IEC.

“The court dismissed the application in July 2017, resulting in the commission remaining in the premises for the remainder of the contract.”

The IEC said the lease would end in 2020. In the meantime it would stick to the court decision until the lease deal expired in the next two years.

The IEC also said it would move to an alternative place once the deal ran out.

“The current lease for Riverside premises comes to an end in 2020. The electoral commission has already begun the process to identify the premises for its national office from when the lease expires,” said the IEC.

Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu in his report also confirmed the High Court had dismissed the IEC’s application to scrap the lease deal.

The IEC is faced with the task of organising another round of national and provincial elections in the country. These are expected to be the most hotly contested elections since 1994.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce the date of the elections after consultations with various stakeholders including the IEC.

However, it is expected that the polls will be held early next year.

Political Bureau