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Ramphele questions election processes

180213. Women’s Gaol at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg. Dr Mamphela Ramphele officially launched a new political party called Agang which means "build" in SeTswana. 948 Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

180213. Women’s Gaol at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg. Dr Mamphela Ramphele officially launched a new political party called Agang which means "build" in SeTswana. 948 Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Published Jun 18, 2013

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Cape Town - The soon-to-be-launched political party, Agang SA, has concerns about the independence of elections, its leader Mamphela Ramphele said on Tuesday.

“The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has eroded as an independent electoral commission,” she told the Cape Town Press Club.

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She said Agang SA was in talks with other political parties, the Democratic Alliance in particular, to double-check certain IEC processes.

“(We need) to be reassured that first of all, we are not going to have party hands, people going around purportedly doing voter education,” she said.

“We don't need voter education, we need civic education and that has to be done independently, by professionals.”

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She said she was concerned by the IEC's service providers.

“That electronic platform used for elections Ä we need to be sure that it is the best that is available and that it's tamperproof.”

Ramphele said that during a four month tour of the country, she became aware of “sinister” intimidation of voters.

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She had heard of some people being required to take pictures of their ballot papers with their cellphones to be “rewarded for doing the right thing”.

“Voters don't actually know that they have a choice. Many are being told that if you go into that ballot box, we can see who you vote for and therefore we will punish you and take away your grants or your RDP houses.”

Ramphele believed the country was in a state partly because it had disempowered citizens.

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“... And that has been the focus of Agang: to build that self-confidence. South Africans have very low expectations of themselves, of their government and of their country.”

She said many of the people she spoke to were furious with the government.

“They're furious with this corrupt behaviour, and yet they feel powerless,” she said.

“It is clear to me this is made possible by lack of accountability and good governance. Accountability relies on the relationship between the representatives and constituents.”

She believed that there would be greater accountability if MPs had to conduct regular meetings with their constituents.

“Without appropriate governance and accountability systems, the direction of our country is being allowed to drift to catastrophic depths.”

Agang SA will be formally launched as a political party on Saturday. - Sapa

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