IEC’s incompetence blamed for system blackout

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the Electoral Commission Sy Mamabolo speaking during a media briefing at Gallagher convention centre in Midrand.Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the Electoral Commission Sy Mamabolo speaking during a media briefing at Gallagher convention centre in Midrand.Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

Published May 31, 2024


The EFF says the crashing of the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s (IEC’s) dashboard highlights the “incompetence and inability” of the IEC to safeguard democracy.

Before the crash, more than 50% of the national votes had already been counted.

According to reports, technicians were trying to debug and improve the system.

“They found a bug. Someone planted malware in the systems. We are de-bugging and trying to resolve it,” said an unconfirmed report.

The EFF said it noted, with great concern, the incident leading to the results dashboard being off-line for almost two hours yesterday morning.

EFF elections spokesperson Sixolose Gcilishe said the incompetence was first witnessed on voting day, when the voter management devices (VMDs) were not fully functional at many voting stations across the country.

Gcilishe said this resulted in long queues and a longer voting process which he said were not properly managed by the institution.

“The crash of the results dashboard for such a historical election is concerning and warrants a thorough investigation to ensure transparency and integrity in the electoral process. We call on the IEC to act swiftly in rectifying any technical problems which may arise during this time to maintain public trust in the democratic process,” said Gcilishe.

He said: “The EFF calls upon all our deployees at IEC capturing centres to be on high alert and report any mischievous developments, as they are the last line of defence.”

The IEC issued an apology following the system crash.

According to reports the system indicated technical glitches from as early as 2am yesterday. This left political parties and South Africans fuming.

“We apologise for the issue with our public facing NPE system, and are working on restoring service. The results system is still operational and local offices continue to capture results,” said IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela.

The uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) said the incidents were not isolated but part of an ongoing pattern of systematic failures and unexplained occurrences, such as the load shedding at voting stations during a period devoid of scheduled national load shedding.

MKP spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela said the anomalies raised substantial questions about the integrity of the electoral process and suggested potential misconduct intended to “rig” the elections.

“What is also of concern is how all these systematic failures are occurring at the IEC, when Telkom as their service provider is known to deliver and manage world class Tier 1 IT and telecommunications services that shouldn’t lead to these kind of so-called glitches in the midst of a critical period of vote counting,” Ndhlela said.

“It is profoundly troubling that the IEC, despite its substantial budget and pivotal role, apparently lacks robust backup systems and adequate business continuity plans at such a crucial time.

“The timing of these crashes - occurring as vote tallying hits a critical phase and as preliminary results indicate a significant voter shift away from the incumbent ANC of Cyril Ramaphosa - intensifies our suspicions,” Ndhlela said.

He said the involvement of IEC commissioner Janet Love, a known ally of Ramaphosa and previously alleged to have manipulated electoral outcomes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, deepened their concerns about the electoral oversight’s fairness.

“In light of these circumstances, the MKP urgently calls for the IEC to convene an urgent meeting with representatives from all political parties in order to explain these mysterious two-hour business failures and provide assurance to us and all South Africans that these anomalies are not attempts to influence the electoral outcomes in favour Ramaphosa-ANC,” he said.

Ndhlela said the party asserted that should there be any reasonable doubt regarding the IEC’s integrity or the actions of its commissioner, the MKP was fully prepared to take all necessary measures to prevent any fraudulent activities, including pursuing legal action.

He said it was essential for the stability and future of democracy that these issues were addressed immediately, ensuring that all South Africans had faith in the electoral process and its outcomes.

“We remain vigilant and resolute in ensuring that the electoral process is conducted fairly and transparently, truly reflecting the will of the South African people,” Ndhlela said.

The commission has been accused of being incompetent, and there were few challenges that they were currently dealing with.

On Thursday, the IEC appealed to the public to assist it to recover a ballot box that went missing in transit from the voting station at Matamzana Dube School to an electoral office for storage.

The Star

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