2021 Local Government Elections IEC Report; IEC Commissioner Vacancy: OCJ Report

Home Affairs

20 May 2022
Chairperson: Mr M Chabane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


2021 LGE Report

Letter to Speaker IEC

The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs (the Committee) convened a virtual meeting for a briefing by the Independent Electoral Commission (the IEC) on the 2021 Local Government Elections (LGE) report and to consider the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) report on the IEC commissioner vacancy.

The Committee was disappointed that the IEC report was silent on the matter of registered voters who were unable to vote on election day. The major concern related to discrepancies between registrations done via Voter Management Devices (VMDs) and the recording thereof on the voter’s roll. Instances were reported of registered voters whose names did not appear on the voter’s roll. Additionally, reports were received of voters who were rerouted from their normal voting station to a different voting station without notification. The IEC explained that the problems could be attributed to the operating environment and that the devices were functioning as required. The IEC agreed to schedule a debriefing session with the Committee to further deliberate and resolve this matter in preparation for the 2024 elections.

The low voter turnout posed a threat to democracy and should concern all South Africans. The IEC was troubled by the sustained and damaging attacks on Commissioners by political parties. This may lead to distrust in the ability of the IEC to hold free and fair elections, thereby contributing to a further decline in voter participation. It cautioned against the phenomena of councillor killings which was reflecting poorly on the credibility of people seeking political office and may negatively impact the desire to vote. The IEC offered to expand on the issue of low voter turnout in the debriefing session.

The ANC nominated its preferred candidate to fill the position of IEC Commissioner. Opposition parties requested more time for consultations. The Committee resolved to finalise the nomination process in the next meeting. 

Meeting report

Prior to meeting with the IEC Commissioners, the Committee received a briefing by the Content Advisor, Mr Adam Salmon, on the main issues emanating from the 2021 Municipal Elections Report.

The Committee Secretary, Mr Eddy Mathonsi, requested Mr K Pillay (ANC) to proceed with the meeting in the capacity of Acting Chairperson while he was waiting on the Chairperson to connect to the platform.

Mr Pillay called on Members for their input on the main issues in the report.

Ms A Khanyile (DA) was satisfied with the presentation and the clear responses.

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) thanked the Content Advisor for the summary.

Mr A Roos (DA) said problems with the Voter Management Devices (VMDs) had a substantial effect on the election. He noted that a remedial action plan on this issue was absent from the report. The Committee needed to get an understanding of what had been done and how the matter was going to be fixed. The IEC had legal advice on the viability of hosting free and fair elections but only acted when the Moseneke report was released.

Ms L Tito (EFF) raised a concern about registered voters whose names were not on the voter’s roll when they went to vote.

Ms A Ramolobeng (ANC) was satisfied with the summary presented by the Content Advisor.

Ms T Legwase (ANC) was similarly concerned about registered voters that were unable to vote. In the by-elections held two weeks ago, voters within the same household were moved to different voting districts without notification. This was causing confusion which the IEC needed to explain.

Ms Van der Merwe shared the concern about the report being silent on the matter of registered voters who were not afforded the chance to vote. The issue caused the biggest outcry from all political parties, yet it was not in the report.

Mr Pillay drew attention to additional matters, i.e. challenges with the special votes and ballot material, that were absent from the report.

Mr Salmon said he scrutinised the CVs and online interviews of candidates being considered for the IEC Commissioner position and identified only one complaint raised against one of the candidates. The matter had been resolved in the Equality Court.

Mr Pillay sought confirmation that there were no other issues to discredit any of the candidates.

Mr Salmon replied that above what was observed in the verbal interviews, no other information was available.

Ms Khanyile said she watched the interviews on YouTube and thanked the Content Advisor for clarifying the matter.

The meeting adjourned for a brief moment and restarted at 09:00.

The Chairperson joined the meeting and was updated by Mr Pillay about proceedings that took place in his absence.

The Chairperson remarked that he was on par with the notes. He had gone through the documents and the IEC report related to the matters of the day. The meeting was convened to reflect and interact with the IEC on issues that occurred pre-and-post the local government elections. He was expecting to get an update on the progress made in terms of the shortcomings identified and how the IEC responded to issues recommended by the Department of Home Affairs. The Committee Secretary would later outline the process of engaging with the report of the Chief Justice on the IEC vacancy.

Apologies were received from the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Deputy Minister, Mr Njabulo Nzuza.

The Chairperson called on Ms Janet Love, Vice-Chairperson, IEC, to introduce the IEC team.

Opening remarks by IEC Vice-Chairperson
Ms Love remarked that the IEC was presenting the 2021 elections report to the Committee with great pleasure. The elections were challenging, exciting, and historic. The IEC was taking the opportunity to engage with the Committee very seriously. The team was led by the Deputy CEO, Mr Masego Sheburi, who was accompanied by fellow commissioners, the executive team, and a number of members of the administration.  

There were a number of different features of the 2021 elections that Mr Sheburi was going to report on. She wanted to highlight some of the issues. Early in 2021, in the midst of the deadly Delta Covid-19 variant, the IEC was faced with the big question of when and how free and fair elections would be possible. All of the political parties and other stakeholders made representations to the IEC. Usual engagements with citizens and employees were negatively impacted. While the timetable for elections to be held in October 2021 was ongoing, the IEC asked retired Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke, for guidance on the Constitutional Court judgment. He was given a wide range of questions and a short timeframe. The IEC would remain grateful to Justice Moseneke for the manner in which he responded and the guidance that his report provided. The IEC now has a much clearer view of what needed to be taken into account to make free and fair elections possible. The report gave recognition to the role that political parties and civil society must play in mobilising for elections. The IEC accepted the report into the inquiry from Justice Moseneke and approached the Constitutional Court for a decision to hold elections in February 2022. The Court declined the request and decided to reopen voter registration, thereby rendering the timetable for the October 2021 elections no longer applicable. The new timetable allowed for only 42 days to prepare for election day on 1 November 2021 as directed by the Court. The ability to hold free and fair elections in such a short period of time reflected well on the general state of readiness of the IEC.

The IEC paid tribute to the Chief Electoral Officer and his entire team for the work delivered, and the dedication and consistency with which they performed the task. The IEC thanked the 12 million voters who cast their votes. The 2021 elections were historic not only in terms of the pressurised conditions under which they took place but also for being the most innovative. The investment that the country made in the voter management system paid off handsomely and will stand us in good stead in the future. A major challenge that emerged from the 2021 elections was the low voter turnout. The IEC reviewed its own position and role that it must play as part of the national effort and trusted that all political parties and other members of civil society, as well as government, would do the same so that we can grow and deepen our democracy. The IEC expressed its gratitude to a number of ministers and departments that played significant roles in enabling the elections, in particular the departments of COGTA, Home Affairs, Police, Finance, and Basic Education. We are often reminded of how far our relatively young democracy has come and how far we still need to go despite the challenges.

IEC Report on the 2021 Local Government Elections
Mr Masego Sheburi, Deputy CEO: Electoral Operations, IEC, said a number of factors must coalesce for elections to be free and fair. He wanted to underscore that the Constitutional Court decision of 3 September 2021 led to the reopening of the voter’s roll. The IEC organised a voter registration weekend for mid-September 2021 to equalise opportunities for all voters. The amended timetable presented the IEC with 42 days to undertake election activities which disrupted the sequence of events. Activities were done in tandem which created difficulties but the IEC managed to preserve the proclamation of 4 August 2021 to facilitate the elections on 1 November 2021.

Statistics showed that 26.2 million voters registered for the 2021 elections. The same municipal boundaries as for the 2016 elections were used but the number of voting districts changed slightly to 23 148. A total of 323 political parties were represented by 95 427 candidates who met the requirements to contest elections. The special votes represented 4% (1 110 145) of registered voters. The under-representation of young voters between 18 and 29 years must be of concern to everyone.

Only 46% (12 million of the 26.2 million) registered voters participated in the election. The low voter participation rate amongst South Africans was a reason for concern. Voter turnout in rural areas was higher compared to urban provinces. Participation amongst young, registered voters were higher than any other age group. This indicated that young voters were more likely to vote once they have registered. In the 2019 national elections, the majority of people voted between 07:00 and 09:00. Thereafter the voting rate declined from 11:00 until the end of the day. But the rate remained almost constant throughout the day in the 2021 local government elections.

Mr Sheburi explained that the VMDs were put on tender four years ago. Two of the tenders failed due to unaffordability and technicalities. Engagements on the third tender occurred during the Covid-19 period. Delivery of the VDMs took place a few weeks before the voter registration period in mid-2021. The devices were tested for the first time on registration day as there was not sufficient time for testing prior to registration weekend. The VMD recorded 11 million of the 12 million votes cast on election day. The devices were found to be fit for purpose and for tracking ballots.

Mr Sheburi said the truncated timeframe posed a challenge. He emphasised that organising elections within 42 days was not doable and should not be repeated. The cut-throat nature of contestations, resulting in the phenomena of councillor killings presented a different type of challenge. This reflects on the credibility of people seeking political office and may lead to a further decline in voter participation. The sustained attacks on Commissioners by political parties were damaging. Voters could be expected to vote if outcomes were not trusted. The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) researchers tested the perceptions of voters based on a representative sample. The results showed that 92% of the voters indicated that elections were free and fair while 97% were satisfied that their vote would be kept a secret. On average, the majority of voters were in queues for less than an hour which was an indication of the positive experience that voters had.

The Chairperson thanked the Deputy CEO for the presentation and the Vice-Chairperson for the introduction to the work that was undertaken by the IEC. He invited Members to interact with the report.

Mr Pillay applauded the IEC for ensuring that the 2021 elections were free and fair despite the various challenges. The elections were successfully run under extreme conditions. He endorsed the elections as free and fair. Due process must be followed by any political party or individual who was questioning the process. In the absence of complaints being lodged, the elections were deemed to be free and fair. He commended the IEC for the approaches that were followed and the mechanisms that were introduced, e.g. the single-use earbud to mark the thumbnail of voters was a precautionary measure to avoid Covid-19 transmission. Low voter turnout could be attributed to citizens who feared the risk of transmission during the most dangerous wave of the pandemic. He was concerned about the many people who registered for the special vote but were not offered the opportunity to vote. Presiding officers confirmed a similar concern raised by many political parties about registered voters who were not able to vote. Instances were reported of voters within the same household who had to vote in different voting districts. The IEC must be able to correct the situation.

Mr Roos was of the opinion that the VMDs caused the greatest havoc on election day. He was aware of a lady who registered to change her address via the VMD but was unable to vote on election day. He was therefore amazed that the IEC did not report on the failures and challenges that were experienced on the day. He was disturbed to hear that the IEC tested the devices on registration weekend. The Committee specifically asked whether the devices had been tested if field staff was trained and whether a backup system was in place. The Committee received assurances that all of this had been done. Another concerning issue was that the VMD was able to track where and at what time a person had voted. He questioned why this information was required. He asked how the information collected via the VMDs was identified and how it was managed, protected and verified in terms of the POPI Act. A key constitutional requirement of the IEC was to ensure that every person is entitled to register and cast a vote. The IEC was able to provide statistics on the number of persons registered but seemed unable to account for the number of people who wanted to register during the registration weekend but were failed by the system. The report provided no statistics on the impact of the VMDs on voter turnout and the time it took for voters to cast their vote. It caused slow queues in areas of high voter concentration. Reports were received of voters who wanted to leave the voting station as a result of system failures. If the ability of people to register and vote was an element of free and fair elections, then it was worrying that these key performance areas were not managed and the IEC was not able to report on these matters. He found it worrying that no action plan was presented to address these weaknesses. It would be helpful if the Committee could resolve that the IEC present a complete action plan on how it was going to prevent all these VMD issues from occurring in the 2024 elections.

Ms Tito was concerned about the devices that were not working during the voter registration weekend and bemoaned the fact that the Committee was not given the opportunity to test the devices ahead of time. She requested statistics on the number of new registrations during the voter registration weekend.

Ms M Molekwa (ANC) requested the IEC to elaborate on the challenges of low voter turnout and the struggles to regain voter confidence for future elections. She asked the IEC to consider allowing more time for verification of the voter’s roll as three days were insufficient to act on objections.

Ms Khanyile acknowledged that the 2021 elections were held under challenging conditions. She raised concerns about the impact of the VMD issue on the manner in which the 2021 elections were managed and that the challenges of procuring the devices were not reflected in the report. The Committee had, on a number of occasions, asked for the devices to be tested prior to voter registration weekend. Manual registrations were done in instances where the devices were not operating. A huge number of voters, who registered manually, were turned away on election day because their names did not appear on the voter’s roll. Votes were abandoned because people refused to be moved to different voting districts. She questioned the IEC decision to move voters to new wards. The IEC confirmed its readiness to run elections on a number of occasions. Therefore, the 42-day timetable to organise electoral activities should not have been an issue. The IEC reported having reached 75 360 learners at 1 382 schools through the Democracy Outreach Programme. She asked if the IEC managed to arrange for the registration of these learners with local IEC officers. She wanted to know which criteria were used to identify the DSTV channels used for the promotion of voter outreach and education campaigns. She stated that on election day, no one was available at the call centre to answer queries. She wanted to know what other measures were in place to give direction in terms of escalating matters on the ground on election day. Results of the HSRC survey showed an increase in the level of trust amongst voters compared to the decline reported in the Afrobarometer survey. She questioned the differences in the results of the two surveys. She asked what follow-up is done when decisions of the Electoral Court favour the applicants. She asked for an explanation of what had happened with the votes of people who were manually registered.

Ms Ramolobeng agreed that the 42-day timetable should not be used as an excuse considering that the IEC declared its readiness for the elections in the media. Political parties lost votes due to problems with the VMDs because people left the voting stations without casting a ballot. She requested the IEC to provide statistics on the number of people who were unable to vote as a result of being rerouted to different voting stations. She questioned the IEC process of changing the staff complement for every election. The voting process was delayed because the new officials either did not understand the operations or seemed unable to assist party agents. For example, when a voting station opened an hour later than the stipulated time, new officials would refuse to close the voting station an hour later in the evening.

Ms Van der Merwe congratulated the IEC on a job well done. Arranging the 2021 election activities despite the challenges and the shorter timetable proved that the system was working. She was however baffled that the report did not focus on the issue of registered voters who were unable to vote as this was the main reason why the IEC suffered brand damage. She received calls on election day from many discouraged young voters who could not find their names on the voter’s roll. She was expecting the report to indicate how many voters had been affected by their names not appearing on the voter’s roll. She held the view that there was no synergy between the hard copy of the voter’s roll and the record of registered voters. She agreed that the IEC should return to the Committee with an updated report. She questioned whether the IEC would be able to invest in more training considering the budget cuts. She recommended that the Public Reporting App for disinformation should become more visible on social media and proposed that the IEC should train Members, who in turn could train party agents, to use the App. The IEC was placing a lot of focus on social media for the communications campaigns. She asked if the IEC would consider using the short messages service (SMS) option because not everyone had access to data and the internet. She argued that considering the 70% youth unemployment rate the IEC should, in the lead up to 2024, invest in training the youth so that could form part of the election staff. She acknowledged that Covid-19 played a role in the low voter turnout and that the IEC could not solely be held responsible because of the trust deficit between the public and political parties. She wanted to know if the IEC had statistics per age group in terms of people who registered to vote and those who have voted for the purposed of targeted outreach. Referring to the low voter turnout crisis amongst young people, she asked if the IEC was able to establish if the voter education programmes at schools and universities were yielding results. She enquired about the international best practice methods to promote and increase voter participation. She found the report that rural communities were more active in the 2021 elections interesting, considering that rural citizens do not have access to data or the internet and require transport to travel to voting stations. She asked if the IEC believed that moving registration and voting online would solve the low voter turnout in Gauteng and other urban areas.

Ms Legwase congratulated the IEC for ensuring that the 2021 elections were free and fair. She wanted to know if the IEC had plans in place to resolve all the challenges highlighted by Members. She recounted how a person who had been voting at a particular voting station in November 2021 was rerouted to a different voting station for the May 2022 by-elections. The transfer of voters has a bad effect on voter participation. She asked if the IEC could share the post-election analysis of their strength and weaknesses and if improvements will be made in terms of the concerns raised by Members and the public.   

The Chairperson requested the IEC to expand on the VDM procurement process. Both the IEC and the Minister strongly confirmed the readiness of the devices which was not corresponding with the report that the devices arrived late. He was aware of three voters, who for years had been voting in Ward 21 in Polokwane but were unable to vote in November 2021. Weaknesses must be addressed to strengthen the credibility of the IEC considering that the Election Amendment Bill was facing huge challenges. The IEC could have taken a stronger position on the challenges faced by registered voters who were unable to vote. He asked what impact Covid-19 had on the 2021 elections.

Mr Mosotho Moepya, Commissioner, IEC, thanked Members for being frank in raising their concerns. In response, he would clarify the context of the many issues that were discussed. He explained that the IEC developed a timetable based on the number of days required for election activities. The timetable was disrupted when the IEC was required to reopen the voter’s roll for new registrations. It was impossible to do all of the required work considering the unique development the IEC had to deal with. In clarifying the VMD matter he said political parties, represented in party liaison committees (PLCs), participated in the extensive simulation process. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the IEC did not have the opportunity to do a real-life test. Despite the tight schedule, a dry run was conducted before the elections which involved political parties, observers, IEC staff, and anyone who had an administrative role in the elections. At the time of the dry run, the media was present at the results centre. Part of the problem with the device was that in the process of pointing at the screen to confirm the address, a voter might inadvertently have indicated the wrong address. The process had since been refined through the monthly by-elections that were held after the November 2021 elections.

Commissioner Moepya said more than 1.7 million voters applied for registration during the voter registration weekend in September 2021. This number included new registrations and updates in registration detail. The challenges in terms of people not appearing on the voter’s roll were limited to 140 000 people. He acknowledged that this was an area that required improvement. He drew attention to the one big factor that caused considerable concern before the elections, i.e. the allegation that voters were able to vote more than once by moving from one voting station to the next. He stated that this did not happen in the 2021 elections. In response to the low voter turnout, he explained that the HSRC report was done onsite by researchers who were based at voting stations to interview voters about the experience after the vote. Research results were made available before the election results were declared. The HSRC report was the most reliable report on the performance of the IEC. He welcomed the opportunity to have a debriefing session with the Committee to jointly deliberate on matters.

Dr Nomsa Masuku, Commissioner, IEC, found the candid inputs from Members helpful and insightful. She felt that the Committee might be better served by having the debriefing session for further robust discussions. She acknowledged that the report could have been enriched by the inclusion of the issue of registered voters who were unable to vote. The report should be augmented with the available data. She explained the difference between the HSRC and Afrobarometer report is attributed to the sample used by both entities. The HSRC sample included only people who have voted. The Afrobarometer sample included all South Africans who were able to vote and have voted or chose not to vote and those who were not able to vote. People who voted reported higher levels of satisfaction and trust while the bigger sample involving all citizens reported lower levels of satisfaction and trust.

Commissioner Masuku stated that changes in the staff complement were due to changes in criteria. Only applicants who successfully complete the modules for the training of election staff, get appointed. Applicants who are unsuccessful in Module One do not get considered for an appointment. The push to open opportunities for the unemployed could result in losing experienced people in the system. She said it would be helpful if the detail of specific cases could be brought to the attention of the IEC for follow-up. She remarked that voter turnout was dependent on people’s assessment of what was on offer and could be influenced by many factors including the atmosphere in the country and the reporting of glitches in the electoral system. She offered to expand on global voter turnout in the debriefing session. It would help to create a better understanding of global voter decline and how to better respond to the phenomena.  

Ms Love welcomed the proposal by Members to share and engage about remedial measures on voter registration and VMDs. The touch screen on the device was very sensitive and could have resulted in the system recording the incorrect addresses of voters. It would require a face-to-face engagement with Members to provide comfort on how to operate the devices and to better understand the process. She confirmed the important value of the VMDs because it enables the IEC to do what Members were asking in relation to engagements at schools and tertiary institutions. The devices offer portability which facilitates the Democracy Development Programme and assists with online registration. It was vital to introduce counting devices to make the system more effective. In addition to the VMDs, further engagement on the issue of technology was needed to plan more effectively in the preparation for the 2024 elections. In response to the issue of the timing of elections, she used the analogy of preparing a meal. You may have all the ingredients but if at the last minute it is found that the ingredients are no longer useful due to whatever reason, reprioritisation is needed. Reopening the registration process meant that the voter’s roll could not be opened for inspection. A further knock-on effect was the difficulty to set up election activities within 42 days. The three-day period for inspection of the voter’s roll required further discussion. The IEC would benefit from the proposed engagement with the Committee. 

Mr Sheburi drew attention to the timeline that had been agreed upon with the Minister of COGTA in 2019. On 4 August 2021, the Minister of COGTA proclaimed 27 October 2021 as the election day. This would have allowed a timetable of 86 days. The Constitutional Court judgement deferred the election date, thereby reducing the timetable to 42 days. He confirmed that the number of voters affected by the VMD problem was limited to 140 000. People who were not able to register on the VMD were manually registered and added to the voter’s roll. The challenges were not related to the device but to the operating environment. Due to disrupted logistics, a dry run was not possible but simulations were conducted. Network connectivity was a limitation and uneven bandwidth was expected. The device operated in offline mode in areas of insufficient bandwidth. Provision was not made for spectrum cut-off which created system bottlenecks and slow responses. New dedicated servers were introduced to free up bandwidth for the different operational areas. The mapping functionality was intensified to make it easier to locate areas of registration. The allegations that people were rerouted were misplaced. The VMD would indicate the relationship between the ward and the voter depending on the located address. The device was working as required. The problem was with the operating environment which had since been corrected.

Mr Sheburi explained that the IEC embarks on a recruitment drive with each election. Appointment is based on performance which was a purposeful intervention to maintain credibility. If party liaison officers object to the names presented, then the appointment is not made. The IEC noted the suggestion to use the SMS option to accommodate people who do not have access to data. However, the SMS options are not interactive in the same manner as WhatsApp.

The Chairperson offered Members the opportunity to raise follow up questions. He welcomed the willingness of the Commissioners to debrief the Committee on certain issues in preparation for the 2024 elections and acknowledged the role of the IEC to assist in navigating the issues when it is raised.

Ms Khanyile pleaded with the IEC to double check that people are correctly registered to avoid the reoccurrence of people being turned away on election day.

Ms Van der Merwe thanked the IEC for the comprehensive answers and encouraged ongoing discussions in the lead-up to the 2024 elections. She welcomed the proposal of the debriefing session and resolved to submit her unanswered question in writing to the IEC.

Ms Legwase agreed to have more sessions with the IEC.

The Chairperson sought clarity on the issue of the 140 000 voters who had been affected by the VDM problem. The narrative that people were disallowed to vote should not be left unanswered.

Ms Love said it would be useful to provide a written note to the Committee on how manual registration was captured onto the system. A note would also be provided on the information that was not transmitted to the voter’s roll. She drew attention to the fact that voter registration is an ongoing process. She urged Members and her colleagues to go online and confirm their detail. She appreciated the willingness of Members to engage and would follow up on issues in the debriefing session.

The Chairperson thanked the Commissioners for the opportunity to engage. He trusted that the IEC paid attention to recommendations for the improvement of elections. He acknowledged the good work by the former Deputy Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke. He expressed appreciation for the role of the party liaison officers who briefed the Committee on issues emanating from the IEC. He encouraged continuous engagement with other sectors to debunk the narrative of discrediting the IEC. The Committee acknowledged the challenges facing the IEC and said the narrative must not be allowed to grow. The IEC made great strides since 1994. More awareness must be created about the work of the IEC. The matter of the IEC being corrupt came to the attention of the Committee in the past two weeks. He challenged members of the society or any political party to lodge complaints via the appropriate channels. He appreciated the fact that the IEC was taking responsibility for the challenges of the 2021 elections. He agreed that the debriefing session would assist to improve operations. The Committee accepted the report and noted the recommendations that were agreed on.  

IEC Commissioner Vacancy:  OCJ Report
The Chairperson stated that the term of the Chairperson of the IEC, Mr Glenn Mashinini, had ended. Invitations were issued to interested individuals to apply for the position. Interviews were conducted and the proceedings of the shortlisted candidates were made available to Members. A report was sent to the Speaker who, in turn, referred the report to the Committee for finalisation of the process. On 14 April 2022, the report was distributed to all Members. On 20 April 2022, Members interfaced with the process. On 6 May 2022, the Content Advisor briefed the Committee. Members were requested to do further consultation. The Committee was expected to deliberate on the matter in this meeting. Once the process is concluded, the name will be recommended to the President. The Chairperson called on the Committee Secretary to outline the role of the Committee.

The Committee Secretary said the Content Advisor had scrutinised the report received from the Office of the Chief Justice. Members needed to nominate their preferred candidate and motivate the nomination. In the event that the nomination would be made in this meeting, a generic report was developed to allow Members to insert the name of the preferred candidate. Thereafter, the report would be adopted, sent to the National Assembly, and forwarded to the President for the appointment of the National Commissioner.

The Chairperson thanked the Committee Secretary for summarising the process. He had gone through the CVs and interviews of the candidates who participated in the interviews. He invited Members to interact with the OCJ report.

Mr Pillay gave his motivation before nominating the candidate of his choice. The local government elections had been undertaken during a difficult period of adapting to Covid-19 challenges and the Constitutional Court ruling to postpone the elections. Despite all these challenges, the IEC was able to deliver on its mandate. Key to this delivery was Mr Glenn Mashinini, the person who was leading the process. He served as the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer which came with huge responsibilities. A former CEO of the IEC made the comment that the highlight of the national mission of the IEC was that throughout the period of service, Mr Mashinini’s administration had a clean, professional record, with no single Auditor-General qualification or adverse reports. Mr Pillay believed that there was no need to replace something if it was working. He believed the candidate had extensive knowledge and experience in local, provincial and national government elections. He completed his tertiary studies at an Australian university. Having gone through the experience of processing the Electoral Amendment Bill, the Committee was anticipating major challenges in terms of the inclusion of independent candidates for provincial and national elections. Mr Mashinini would be the best-equipped person to lead the country to the 2024 elections based on his understanding of the process. It would be difficult for a new person at the helm of the IEC to prepare for the 2024 elections considering the changes required in terms of the Electoral Amendment Bill. Mr Pillay strongly recommended Mr Glenn Mashinini as his preferred candidate.

Mr Roos remarked that Ms Khanyile would state the position of the DA. He cautioned that all interviews should be considered before a decision is made.

Ms Tito requested an opportunity to further consult with her party before making her submission.

Ms Molekwa agreed with Mr Pillay’s motivation to retain Mr Mashinini.

Ms Khanyile shared Ms Tito’s sentiment. The nomination process was originally scheduled for 27 May 2022 which would have allowed enough time to view all of the interviews. She needed more time in order to make an informed decision.

Ms Ramolobeng concurred with Mr Pillay’s submission to retain Mr Mashinini as it would be in the best interest of the country. Members were aware of the length of the interviews and were afforded enough time to view the interviews. It would be better to finalise the process sooner to enable the new commissioner to start working, considering the challenges of preparing for credible and fair elections in 2024.

Ms Van der Merwe said Mr Pillay’s motivation emphasised the experience of Mr Mashinini. This must be viewed in the context of the critical issue of low voter turnout amongst the youth. She questioned the rush to complete the process and supported the appeal to deal with the matter on 27 May 2022. It was important to recommend the best person for the job, who must address all the challenges the IEC was currently facing.

Ms Tito asked the Chairperson if he would allow her fellow EFF member, Mr Marshall Dlamini, a chance to speak.

The Chairperson acknowledged the presence of Mr Dlamini and the previous Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Bongani Bongo on the platform. He agreed to invite Mr Dlamini after Ms Legwase had spoken.  

Ms Legwase noted the comments of her colleagues. She was concerned that the delay would create an opportunity to lobby against the candidate that had already been suggested by Mr Pillay. Ms Van der Merwe was suggesting that Members must not nominate a person because he is familiar but must consider what would be best for the country. She stated that ANC Members concurred with the nomination made by Mr Pillay as Mr Mashinini was the best and most experienced person for the job.

The Chairperson called on Mr Dlamini for his contribution but he was unable to connect to the meeting.

The Chairperson cautioned Members against raising issues that were not part of the process. The Speaker referred the matter to the Committee. The Secretariat was requested to table the matter. Members were asked to watch the interviews conducted by the Chief Justice as part of the consultation process with their political parties. The CVs of the applicants were publicly available. Members agreed to schedule this item for discussion. The MANCO decided to shift the date because of the many issues that the Committee was dealing with on the Electoral Amendment Bill. The date was rescheduled to today to accommodate the dates scheduled for the deliberation and adoption of the Bill. He advised Members to articulate their challenges as they arise and not wait until the item was tabled to raise issues as if the process had not been resolved by the Committee. There are certain processes that political parties must consult on to arrive at a proper decision despite their different views. The ANC stated its position to retain Mr Mashinini. Opposition parties requested more time for further consultations. In the next meeting, a report of these deliberations would be tabled and Members who requested further consultation would be offered the opportunity to state their positions. The report with recommendations will be adopted and sent to the National Assembly. It was important to have a collective point of agreement on the position that the Committee was going to take. He cautioned against rebuking any of the shortlisted candidates when motivations are put forward.

Ms Van der Merwe said she was not attempting to de-legitimise any candidate. She was simply stating the fact that there was one candidate that was familiar to everyone and not that the candidate was not suitable. She wanted the misunderstanding to be corrected.

In response, the Chairperson said he was making a statement that all candidates were credible and Members must rise to the occasion in terms of the discourse on this matter. He agreed that she was not rebuking the contribution of Mr Pillay.

Ms Khanyile thanked the Chairperson for considering the postponement request. She sensed that the report was not giving direction in terms of the factors that must be considered to make a decision. She drew attention to the fact that in between watching the interviews on the YouTube channel, Members had a lot of work and plenaries to attend to. She asked to be consulted in the future when dates are changed. She was under the impression this matter was scheduled for 27 May 2022, which would have allowed ample time for consultation and to make an informed contribution.

The Chairperson said the tabling of issues was the responsibility of the MANCO structure to which Members are invited. No issue is tabled without the contribution of and engagement with Members. This process had been followed since the sixth Parliament. The previous Chairperson, Mr Bongo, introduced the process of consultation so that the business of the Committee could be run as a collective. He emphasised that no decision is processed without consultation. The issue of viewing the interviews should not be raised at this stage because YouTube is accessible and the Content Advisor distributed the interviews to assist the process. In the spirit of progress, he asked Members to finalise their consultations and schedule further deliberations for the next meeting. He thanked Members for their contributions and interaction with the IEC report and the IEC Commissioner nomination process. The Committee resolved to finalise the recommendation in the next meeting. He thanked Members for their contributions to the debate, scheduled for Tuesday, 24 May 2022.

The meeting was adjourned.  

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