Independent Electoral Commission: briefing

Home Affairs

14 September 1999
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HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 September 1999
INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION: BRIEFING

SUMMARY
Professor M Mchunu of the IEC advised the Committee on several issues that were raised at the last meeting. He outlined the format and topics for the election report as well as a timeline for their report: a draft report by 30 September and a more formal printout by 15 October 1999 .

Also discussed were the local elections and the problems associated with the demarcation process as well as the numerous challenges that the IEC foresees in the process of purifying the current electoral system. The relevant legislation needs to be examined for contradictions and these removed via amendments and supplementary regulations. The IEC is giving themselves six months for this process. Their deadline for the closure of the voters roll is 30 June 2000.

MINUTES
Election Report
Professor M Mchunu of the IEC reviewed the topics that should be covered in the election report and the timeline leading up to the final presentation of the report. In deciding what topics would be covered, the IEC looked to the 1994 and the 1995-1996 reports for parliamentary tradition. Some of the subheadings that the IEC want to include are:
Introduction
Historical Background
Legal framework
Political climate
Composition/function of electoral commissions
Electoral planning (timeline)
Voters role
Time (the date of the election)
Public awareness
Media
Groups of public awareness
General public voter information
Contacts
Political parties
Electoral officers
Special votes
Rural communities
Youth
Questions/answers
Conflict development
Publications
Voting
Counting
Objections
Certification/results
Opinion polls
Costs (global amount spent)
Recommendations/suggestions

Ms Mars (IFP) asked whether the deadline for removing the contradictions in the electoral legislation was realistic and whether the local elections might need to be postponed.

Technically the elections can happen by law, but suspension of those elections would have to be considered if, for practical purposes, deadlines were not met.

Local Elections
Mr Motlhe, an IEC offical, stated that the finalisation of the voters roll would be affected by demarcation process. If there are delays in demarcation this will impact on the timeline. Some of the challenges the IEC sees in pursuing demarcation include:
1. Getting addresses onto the voters roll (previously these were not included) - they are developing a process to ensure that people can check the voters roll before the election to be sure that the information is correct.
2. Rural areas - the challenge will be to ensure that everyone is covered by means of targetted registration.
3. First-time voters must be registered - the challenge will be to inform them, once demarcation occurs, where they should register
4. Voters rejected from the voters roll and the appeal process

Mr Motlhe stated that the IEC hopes to have closure of the voters roll by 30 June 2000. Targetted registration (in areas where there is low voter registration in comparison to census figures) will be completed by 31 December 1999 . The manuals for training and voter education should be completed by 15 January 2000. The address project, whereby voters' addresses will be added to the voters roll, needs to be completed by 31 March 2000 and the demarcation process deadline is 30 April 2000.

Mr Chikane (ANC) asked whether prisoners would be allowed to vote. The response was that it might be that prisoners are denied the right to vote at the local level, but will still be allowed to vote at the national and provincial levels.

Additionally, there was a suggestion to amend the 30 June 2000 closure date for the voters roll because there is a fear that everything will not be completed by that date.

Problems with regard to local elections
Mr E Lambani, an IEC official, discussed the problems that need to be addressed. These are:
1. The issue of addresses in rural and farm areas. The problem is that farm workers need to use the address of the farm to register but the farmers do not want the workers to use that as their permanent address.
2. If there should be any conflicts over demarcation, then the timeline for local election preparations may be affected.
3. The fact that there is only one voting station per voting district may need to be changed and increased, but this could be difficult because it would mean changing a provision in the Act.
Additionally, there are issues involving creating a purified electoral system and counting votes. Finally, there is the issue of the ballot system at the local level.

Ballot system for local elections
There are between five to ten districts per province, and each district has Local Councils. In the local elections there will be FOUR types of ballots. This in NOT to say that every person has to vote four times or has to use all four ballots. Two of the ballots relate to voting for Local Council, and the other two relate to voting for the District Council. The ballots relating to the Local Council are the ward vote and the proportional representation vote. The ballots relating to the District Council are the 40% vote and the 60% vote.

1. If you live in a municipality that has a Local Council, then you will get three ballots. You get to vote for the Local Council as well as the District Council. The ballots include a ward vote (one vote for a person who if they win the election will become a Local Council member) AND a proportional representation vote (one vote for a party). In addition, you get one 40% vote. The 40% vote is for the District Council. Essentially. You get to directly participate in selecting 40% of the members of the District Council. The other 60% of the members of the District Council are voted in two weeks after the local election by the new members of the Local Council.

2. If you live in a District Management Area (a sparsely populated area such as the Kruger National Park where there is not sufficient people to warrant having a Local Council) you get two ballots. Since you do not have a Local Council, you only vote for the District Council. You get the 40% and the 60% vote ballots.

3. If you live in a metro area (currently there are five proposed metros: Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, East Rand and Pretoria), then there is no District Council. Again, you only get two ballots - the ones relating to Local Council. Again the ballots for Local Council are the ward vote and the proportional representation vote. The 40% and the 60% vote do not apply.

The Chairperson suggested that the IEC prepare a manual explaining the issues related to the local elections. This would serve as a guide to help the Committee members understand the process and, in turn, explain it to others.

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