Independent Electoral Commission: briefing

Home Affairs

17 June 2002
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
18 June 2002
INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION: BRIEFING

Chairperson: Mr Mpho Scott (ANC)

Documents handed out:
IEC Briefing to Home Affairs Portfolio Committee

IEC delegation: Adv Pansy Tlakula (Chief Electoral Officer); Mr Mosostho Moepya (Deputy Chief Electoral Officer); Mr Courtney Sampson (Provincial Electoral Officer); Dr Brigalia Bam (IEC Chairperson)

IEC website:
http://www.elections.org.za/

SUMMARY
The Independent Electoral Commission briefed the Committee on the new zip zip number system, used during registration, which makes it almost impossible for a number to be duplicated. However, a current problem was the disappearance or breakage of zip zip machines. Also identified as an issue was the need for a re-demarcation of electoral zones. The IEC was currently negotiating with traditional leaders in this regard. An attempt was being made to ensure that students obtained ID books and were educated on voting procedures before matriculating. The IEC intends working with the Department of Home Affairs to facilitate the obtaining of ID books to people in rural areas as this would help increase the number of registered voters.

MINUTES
IEC Presentation
Dr Bam (IEC) noted that the IEC wished to lobby the Committee to get people to obtain ID books for voting purposes. She then introduced the new Chief Electoral Officer of the IEC, Adv Pansy Tlakula. Adv Tlakula has served as a Human Rights Commissioner, has been a teacher of law with a great deal of experience in interpreting the law, which has been very useful for the IEC. She has been CEO of the Black Lawyers Association and had been concerned with racism, in which she has done much research. She had represented the IEC at the Racism Conference last year in Durban.

Dr Bam introduced Mr Mosotho Moepya, the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer for the Western Cape who gave the presentation (see Power point presentation):

By - Elections
Mr Moepya (IEC) read through the power point presentation dealing with the By-Elections Principles and Processes. He wanted to allay fears that the "zip zip" numbers could be reproduced. With regard to the section entitled "Check the Zip Zip Sticker", he thought it almost impossible to reproduce as each number on the zip zip represents something specific. He explained the meaning of each number and then moved on to discussing the registration process. He explained the flow diagram and he drew attention to the fact that since 1999 the IEC has not and will not be using manual receipts.

Dr Bam said that the most important issue was that of registration in South Africa as indicated by courts cases that have been brought.

Mr Moepya continued with the presentation and moved onto the section dealing with By-Election Reports. He read through the presentation and drew attention to the figures saying that the highest turnout does not necessarily correspond to the number of spoilt votes. He emphasised that there is not necessarily a positive correlation between these two things.

Dr Bam said this might be explained by whether the voting situation was urban or rural.
Mr Moepya agreed.

Registration
Mr Moepya went through the slide presentation which dealt with, inter alia, background, maintaining the voters' roll, voters' registered across voting district boudaries, mis-located voting stations, and swapped voting district barcodes.

Dr Bam commented that in many parts of the country there were no maps. The second issue was that there are places where a boundary goes through an area that is vacant, and thirdly she said that there are many people who cannot read maps and often maps have been sent back to Pretoria which have not even been checked. She continued by highlighting the problems with voting districts and said that they often run right through villages. This was a problem that was being dealt with.

Mr Moepya continued with the presentation and discussed addressing deficiencies on the voters' roll.

Concluding Remarks
Mr Moepya said that the maintenance of the voters roll is an area which is receiving very serious attention. In addition they are focussing on finding ways for people to register. He said that the IEC has commissioned a study by the Human Rights Commission in this regard so that in rural areas voters can vote.

Discussion
Mr Swart (ACDP) asked about the crossing of the floor legislation. He asked if the IEC had pre-empted any problems?

Mr Mfundisi (UCDP) asked what were the reasons that lead to the devolution of the council?

Mr Grobler (DA) asked about the MEC 7 form and if there are any zip zip machines not accounted for, especially since he had found out that there were zip zip machines not accounted for. He raised a question about the zip zip sticker. He said that he had experienced a situation where people had stickers with 2057 printed on it as the date. He said that he was unable to solve the situation through using the Electoral Act, as they were unable to deliver the official complaint to the opposition parties. He was primarily concerned with the issue around missing zip zip machines.

Mr Zulu (IFP) asked when they hoped that the problems with demarcation would be resolved? He then asked about problems regarding demarcation in rural areas, and reiterated his question about when these problems would be solved.

Dr Bam replied that on the question of MEC 7 forms, they were all going through a learning process and that they learned from objections raised in the field. Regarding demarcation in rural areas, they had negotiated with a number of traditional leaders. In the place where she came from, this had happened, and what they had tried to do in the last elections was to actually move people. At the moment they are involved in negotiations, where some are more political than others, and therefore often the negotiations are more complicated than expected. She reiterated that it is going to take time to introduce these things, and that was the most honest answer she could give.

She continued that the number of voters stands at 18,4 million. This is considered too low as they would like the number to increase to 24 million. The main issue was to ensure that IDs are available more easily, as often in the rural areas there are numerous logistical problems that are not encountered in the urban areas. She would like the support of the Department of Home Affairs to find other ways to make IDs available, such as using different structures.

Dr Bam said that they had raised objections to the crossing the floor regarding principles rather than the law, as the changes are occurring within the law. Many voters are not as sophisticated as they were and as a result this might lead to instability with regard to the electoral system. They had suggested they use two alternative systems, which are evident in their documents. She was primarily concerned with the instability that it might create.

Mr Moepya said that the reason for dissolution of a council lies in s 34, which says that a Council can dissolve itself, or the MEC of a province can dissolve a municipal council. With regard to the issue of 43% of people in a ward voting on MEC 7 forms, there are instances where certain forms have not been uploaded in time, resulting in them being classified as MEC 7 cases. In this instance there had possibly been a mistake with the uploading. Regarding the zip zip machines, since 1999, 1000 machines have been broken or are missing. There are 600 machines that have not been accounted for. The zip zip machines that are missing have been taken off their system and as a result the information would not be inputted into it. He likened it to a cell-phone that is de-registered.

Mr Moepya said that the person using the missing machine would have to scan in a map as well as their ID, and the receipts printed would also not be uploaded if it were from a missing machine. These are all precautions that have been taken to prevent voter fraud. There have been no instances of people having voted on blacklisted equipment.

Mr Grobler (DA) said that this has in fact happened as someone had tampered with the machine. He returned to the problem of the technical issue of not being able to deliver the documents on the parties.

Dr Bam was of the opinion that the MEC 7 forms should be done away with.

Mr Grobler (IEC) said he agreed.

Mr Moepya said that there might have been a problem with machines that were set in the year 2000, and this might be the reason for the 2057 on the alleged sticker.

Adv Tlakula (IEC) said that the problem with the crossing the floor legislation is that the IEC has no jurisdiction to look at the merits of the expulsion of candidates. She sees this as the primary problem.

Dr Bam asked if there was still a 'protection time' in the crossing the floor legislation. The floor answered that there was not. Dr Bam emphasised that rural voters are not protected by this at all.

Mr Scott felt it would be better not to discuss the crossing the floor legislation. He said that he would like clarification on how the IEC was going to locate these missing machines, as they pose other problems regarding voter fraud.

Mr Waters (DA) asked how the IEC would enforce the prevention of political campaigning the day before the election. He questioned how councillors could expel councillors and suggested that they should rather be suspended. He felt that no one takes responsibility for updating the voters roll, and asked what efforts they were making in this regard.

Ms Van Wyk (UDM) asked how the IEC were accommodating natural movements of people. She asked if the IEC were planning an awareness campaign around the fact that people should update their information on the roll. She asked if the IEC had considered using school education programmes for educating first time voters. She asked what their relationship was with the Van Zyl Slabbert task team, and if they could manage a change to constituency voting schemes.

Mr Sikakane (ANC) said he was concerned about the high number of deaths between elections and asked how they are going to resolve the arbitrary drawing of boundaries.

Mr Morwamoche (ANC) asked if they were going to make a new voters roll for the Limpopo province now that it had changed name.

Mr Mokoena (ANC) said he had encountered a farmer in Vanderbyl Park who intimidated his workers from voting, which is an offence in terms of the Act. He had tried to lay a charge, but the police at the local police station refused to do so. He was concerned about the fact that this might be seen as an easy means of preventing voting and asked what the IEC could do about this. His second concern was about the polling stations and the uncertainty that exists, he asked what the IEC was going to do about the confusion. His third question was why elected women were resigning while men were not. His fourth question was whether there is going to be a new voters roll every election or if people could just go and check their details each time.

Mr Skhosana (ANC) asked if it was more difficult to deal with budget allocation in rural areas as one has to travel further. Were budgets allocated according to population density or geographical space?

Adv Tlakula (IEC) said that two of her colleagues and herself formed part of the Van Zyl Slabbert task team. She said that there is the possibility that the system will not need to be changed at all, but if it does, then the IEC will find this very difficult to manage. On the question of the farmer, she asked for the details to be faxed to her and she would be prepared to follow it up. There is a project in the Free State where they are working with the farmers and there is the possibility of copying this model in the future.

Dr Bam said that it should be noted that there are always fewer women. Often they face competition from within their own party, as well as opposition from the Chief in a village if they arrive in the place for the first time. Women also have a problem fighting for a budget, as these arrangements are new. She made it clear that these women face the same problems as women do all over the country. She acknowledged that there is a problem with voters who move around the country as there is no system that monitors this. They rely purely on the voters to inform them of this.

Dr Bam (IEC) said that the attempt to get school children to obtain ID books before they write matric has been successful. She agreed with the system of using schools for voter education. She said that they will get better at passing the regulations on time and planned to train presiding officers to use these regulations effectively.

Mr Sampson (IEC) said that the budget is allocated using a combination of factors that cater for all sorts of differences. With regards to the voters roll, they use the old voters roll and add onto it. The targeted registration process is a sensitive matter for political parties. They try and collaborate with parties on this and for example have held a provincial party liaison meeting. Unfortunately, they were not sure if this message was always reported back to the party. His primary concern was that people who want to register - can do so if they want to by going to a municipality. There was nothing to prevent a political party from doing this en masse. He emphasised that this was therefore a collaborative process. There is a school project where young voters are encouraged to register. He admitted that the problem with the ID books was the main reason for young people who want to vote, not voting.

Mr Moepya pointed out that they have got official case numbers for the missing zip zips and they had written these machines off. In addition, they have software upgrades that prevent missing zip zips from being used. They do have an office in Brakpan, Germiston, Thembisa, which could deal with the issues raised by Mr Waters. They would like to use information from StatsSA and indicated that there is already a relationship with them. The IEC would be having a campaign to update the voters roll. The IEC Geographic Positioning System (GPS) project and the address change project aims to let people know that they should be going to a different voting station. He emphasised that there is a door to door scheme in place to provide for any confusion. Finally there are voter education schemes in place.

Dr Bam emphasised that they wish to look at the specific problems faced by people in the rural areas, particularly as many of the laws are good on paper but do not work in practice.

Mr Scott closed the meeting.

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