Electoral Bill: discussion

Home Affairs

03 August 1998
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

JOINT MEETING OF THE HOME AFFAIRS AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEES
4 August 1998
ELECTORAL BILL: DISCUSSION

Documents handed out:
United Democratic Movement
United Democratic Movement: legal opinion on funding
South African Council of Churches
Electoral Institute of South Africa
Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Proposed Amendments to Electoral Bill [B 69-98]
Electoral Bill [B69-98] (access from
http://www.polity.org.za

SUMMARY
During this meeting campaign funding was discussed, as well as the proposed amendment for a cut-off date for closure of the voters' roll as well as what information would appear on the voters' roll.

MINUTES
Attention was drawn to the UDM’s submission which raised issues centering around campaign funding: the present provisions and its implications on the perceived "free and fair" nature of the elections.

A Democratic Party MP raised the question whether any decisions regarding funding had been reached at the meetings of the sub-committee of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee (which was predominantly ANC). The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) asked if there would be time to make any input into the discussion around campaign funding. The Chairperson asked that any discussion or decision-making on this be suspended until the UDM’s submission had been circulated to every member.

Mr SS van der Merwe (IEC Commissioner) stated that the number of voting districts is adequately catered for in the Bill and requested that no further additions be made. The system used for census taking is appropriate for the drawing of boundaries,

Reference was made to Section 31 (Municipal council elections) by the IEC where the formulation of regulations allows for leeway catering for ward/municipality elections.

The chairperson asked for input as regards to campaign funding. The DP stated that they agreed that funding to all parties is a good idea in principle, but they feel that new parties have to bear some of the risk themselves.
The other parties agreed upon the principle of funding, however the ANC reserves opinion. Concerns were raised about the abuse of funds. The DP suggested that a modest amount should be made available up front, while at the same time the party has to put up an equal amount.

The chairperson asked for input regarding identity documents. An National Party MP asked whether it is possible to devise a way of processing two or more identity documents for one person or for registration in different voting districts. The IEC explained that it is almost impossible for it to happen since mainframe computers operate on the first six digits, and not with the last three digits.

The chairperson asked Mr SS van der Merwe of the IEC to explain the new clause in the Electoral Bill concerning a cut-off date for closure of the voters' roll (see proposed amendments). Questions were raised about the sixty to ninety day notice for elections. Some parties felt that the ANC could use it to disfavour other political parties. The IEC stated that the notice period was made for its own sake, and not for any political parties. It needs time to close and finalise the voters’ roll. The NP particularly is worried about the long period needed for a new election. An amendment in regards to the 1999 elections is wanted.

There was a discussion about what information is going to appear on the voter’s roll. The IEC stated that a serial number, surname, date of birth, and an identity number will be required. No addresses will be needed. The NP questioned the latter, since even townships have addresses. The IEC stated that it would cost too much, the IEC database is incapable of handling addresses, and the voters' roll would be too thick if addresses were included.

The chairperson then read through the clauses in the proposed amendments. He proposed that tomorrow's meeting be canceled to allow political parties time to caucus and sort out their positions on contentious issues.



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