Independent Electoral Commission 2006 Annual Report

Home Affairs

26 February 2007
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Meeting report

HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
27 February 2007
INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION 2006 ANNUAL REPORT

Chairperson
: Mr H Chauke (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Film and Publication Board 2005/6 Annual Report [available later at www.fpb.gov.za]
2006 Annual Report, IEC [available at www.election.org.za]
2005/06 Annual Report Briefing to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, IEC

Audio Recording of the Meeting

SUMMARY
The Independent Electoral Commission briefed the Committee on its 2006 Annual Report. The Committee was concerned about donations received; the Commission’s work in the international field; illnesses contracted by staff while on international duty; the lack of a specific budget allocation for international work and the inaccuracy of the existing voters’ roll in South Africa.

The Committee’s interaction with the Government printing Works (GPW) and Film and Publications Board (FPB) was postponed to the following week, due to time constraints.

MINUTES
introduction by IEC Chairperson
Dr Brigalia Bam (Chairperson, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)) introduced her delegation as with Ms Pansy Tlakula (Chief Electoral Officer) Mr Z Mafuya (Chief Financial Officer), Ms Thoko Mpumlwana (Deputy Chair) and Mr Fanie van der Merwe (Commissioner). She gave a brief summary of the annual report and informed the Committee of challenges and achievements. The achievements included low violence in elections, hosting an International Conference on 5-7 March where they were going to debate the meaning of democracy with Latin American and African states, and providing electoral assistance to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Comoros.

Presentation by the IEC
M Tlakula said the IEC’s strategic objectives were to establish the Commission as the focal point in the delivery of free and fair elections, develop and implement human resources management and development systems, prepare and maintain a high quality voters’ roll, offer high-quality electoral services in order to facilitate voting by all eligible voters,
ensure maximum political participation and inform voters of electoral processes, and maintain and consolidate organisational systems and infrastructure in preparation for future elections. The Commission has never received a qualified audit report from the Auditor-General and this remained so in 2006.

Discussion
Mr F Beukman (ANC) remarked that it would help better interaction if they had short summaries of the outcomes of their international work in the report.

Ms Tlakula replied that they had taken note of this and would definitely consider it.

Mr Beukman asked why there seemed to be such a high rate of sick leave in middle management.

Ms Tlakula replied that the staff was “not faking”. The rate was high because sick leave was used in instances where other leave had been exhausted. They were currently working on a wellness support programme for the staff.

Mr MR Sikakane (ANC) asked why the IEC did not accept cash for any of its transactions.

Ms Tlakula replied that it was the law that they could accept bank guaranteed cheques only. If the electronic tendering system became a reality the law would have to be changed.

Kgoshsi Morwamoche (ANC) noted that the correct time frame for by-elections was not being followed.

Ms Tlakula replied that this was not their fault as municipalities would inform them late that elections would take place.

Kgoshi Morwamoche asked why the training officers had refused Parliamentarians access to their work place.

Ms Tlakula replied that she was not aware of this and they would investigate further. Parliamentarians were welcome to observe the training.

Kgoshi Morwamoche asked why the presiding officers did not count ballot boxes as required by law as this could lead to a lot of complications.

Ms Tlakula responded that this was indeed a problem and it got so bad that in the last elections the wrong ballot papers were delivered to wards. Late demarcation of wards complicated this issue.

Kgoshi Morwamoche asked whether, in their efforts to address the under-representation of women, they ever employed people who were not qualified for the job.

Ms Tlakula replied that they only short-listed female candidates after advertising, despite the fact that a lot of men applied.

Ms Bam added that when it came to the under-representation one of the problems was a lack of staff mobility as most of the staff were permanent and they had to wait for someone to retire before they could place a female in the same position. Moreover, because professional women are in demand, the ones they did employ left for greener pastures.

The Chair asked if they had support system for the officials who came back from their global duties.

Ms Tlakula said they provided psychological and physical support. They also had HIV policies and workshops. Moreover, when the officials went to countries such as the DRC they were provided with medical kits.

Mr MP Sibande (ANC) asked why they did not expose issues of official misconduct like the electoral officer who embezzled money.

Ms Tlakula replied that instances of misconduct were listed in the annual report (p.26).

Mr P Mathebe (ANC) asked whether the IEC was still taking donations.

Ms Tlakula replied that they no longer took donations since the Committee raised the issue. They also did not charge the public for using sms and atm’s to check their registration status.

Ms MM Maunye (ANC) remarked that something should be done to establish voting stations in difficult to reach areas.

Ms Tlakula replied that they were working on this complicated issue.

Ms WM Skosana (ANC) asked why they did not train volunteer staff earlier and inform them of their salary, as it seemed that there were many withdrawals due to salary dissatisfaction.

Ms Tlakula replied that they informed volunteers upfront about their salary, but the withdrawals were a result of the fact that some staff would not show up or some of the volunteers turned out to be candidates.

Mr Skosana asked for clarity on the fact that there can be 11 uncontested wards.

Ms Tlakula replied that it meant that there were 11 wards that had only one candidate standing.

Ms SV Kalyan (DA) commented that they should have domestic observers like in Mozambique. These would then monitor the wards so that mistakes are minimised. Moreover, she was impressed with the officials in DRC who worked very long hours to finish the counting.

Ms Tlakula replied that indeed they should have observers who were up to date with the laws; however they had to do this in-between elections and they also needed money for training.

Kgoshi Morwamoche asked why the IEC was employing teachers as electoral officers whilst many young people were unemployed.

Ms Tlakula replied that the youth normally performed sub-standard work and were ill-disciplined. The Commission could not accept that.

Mr Skosana asked what would happen to a person who was told that he is in fact dead when he checked the voters’ roll.

Ms Tlakula replied that they worked closely with the Department of Home Affairs on the voters roll but it seemed that the department was plagued with identity authentication issues. If a name did not appear on the roll a person cannot vote and has to sort out the issue with Home Affairs.

Presentation of Financial Management Systems and Internal Controls
Mr Z Mafuya said the main objectives were
to operate and maintain sound financial management systems, including internal controls, funds received and spent, finance, accounting policy and the Audit Report.

Discussion
Mr Beukman asked for clarification of the R41 million budgeted for international activities.

Ms Tlakula replied that this was the allocation for international work. For their work in the DRC they received funding from a bilateral agreement, but their other international work is financed from their own budget.

Kgoshi Morwamoche asked if they had received money from the Department of Foreign Affairs that was not budgeted for.

Mr Mafuya replied that initially the funding from Foreign Affairs was deemed a donation, but Treasury now required them to include the amount in their budget. This had not been finalised yet.

Kgoshi Morwamoche asked if they were still receiving donations from provinces and if not, why were donations from Pretoria and the Western Cape listed in the report.

Mr Mafuya replied that they were no longer receiving provincial donations since the matter was raised in the Committee, but the listed amounts were received in the past and not utilised as yet.

The Chair asked for clarity on the increase in temporary staff salaries from R173 million to R237 million.

Mr Mafuya replied that the increase was due to the local government elections in 2006 when additional temporary staff was required.

The Chair asked how many staff they employed and if they still had 44 vacancies.

Mr Mafuya replied that there were around 200 permanent employees.

Ms Tlakula added that the 44 vacancies still existed, but they had consciously decided not to fill them until they had finished their organizational review.

Mr Sibande asked how much had been embezzled.

The Chair pointed out that it was only R700.

Ms Kalyan noted that there was an allocation for legal claims and asked for an example of the nature of the claims.

Ms Tlakula replied that they were involved in a number of legal claims; some from political parties and others from service providers such as the contract they had awarded to a company that was a front, and subsequently the real owner demanded payment.

Kgoshi Morwamoche asked whether they assisted school governing bodies with their elections.

Ms Tlakula replied that they ran elections for organisations such as Students Representative Councils (SRCs) and school governing bodies. The also helped trustees but stayed out of political parties.

The Chair remarked that the IEC should have a stable amount for their international obligations and that the Committee should deliberate on the issue. The Committee unanimously adopted its report on the IEC annual report.

Concluding remarks by Chairperson
The Chair informed the Government Printing Works (GPW) and Film and Publications Board (FPB) delegations present that the Committee’s interaction with them would be postponed to the following week, due to time constraints.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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