Editorial: We must protect the IEC

2016-10-01 11:10
Terry Tselane. (City Press)

Terry Tselane. (City Press)

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The ANC’s clash with – or more accurately attack on – the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which City Press reported on last week, should be of grave concern to all South Africans who care for this democracy.

The attack coincides with the year in which the governing party posted its worst election results to date and lost control of three metros.

The ANC’s accusations lack substance and the whole issue smacks of the party trying to assert its authority over a chapter 9 institution and bully it into submission.

The party’s complaint that the IEC had removed teachers as electoral officers confirms the fears of opposition parties who had complained in the first place that many teachers affiliated to the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union worked to give the ANC an advantage.

And to wait until now, when they have fared poorly, fuels this suspicion.

The ANC’s dissatisfaction with one of the information technology companies that the IEC has employed since 1997 also points to a mentality of sore losers.

There are real fears that the removal of the IEC could open the way for the deployment of a company with links to the governing party.

That must never be allowed to happen.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa has suggested that any complaints about the IEC and its systems and structures be brought to the National Party Liaison Committee, where all parties are represented.

Disturbingly, some within the governing party even employed people to spy on one of the IEC commissioners and illegally took pictures of him meeting various people. Seemingly, they wanted to make the case that he “fraternises” with members of the opposition parties.

These are tendencies of an insecure police state that have no place in an open democracy.

What all of this teaches us is that when the ANC undertook to do introspection and go back to basics, it was not being entirely honest.

The IEC experience confirms that instead of soul-searching, the party has been looking for scapegoats.

We hope that South Africans will rally to protect the independence of the IEC.

The IEC has long been a beacon of excellence and integrity.

All the elections it has conducted since 1994 have been largely free and fair. We must resist the attempt to capture this institution.

Read more on:    sadtu  |  anc  |  independent electoral commission  |  bantu holomisa  |  democracy

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