IEC candidates quizzed on political ties

2014-11-20 21:10
(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

(Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Candidates for the post of IEC commissioner were quizzed about their political affiliation during interviews in Johannesburg on Thursday.

"Are you still a member of a political party?" Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng asked candidate Janet Love.

Love, a former anti-apartheid activist, is a part-time commissioner at the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and a former African National Congress MP.

She said she was not involved in any political party.

"I do not officiate or have direct involvement in any political party."

"But you belong to a political party?" Mogoeng asked Love again.

"Only to the extent of voting for a party," she replied.

A total of 14 candidates were shortlisted for the position of commissioner. The position became vacant when former IEC chairperson Pansy Tlakula resigned in September.

Lawyer Salome Ngwanamathiba Khutsoane told the panellists she did not belong to any political party, and only supported the democratic voting process.

"One of my strong points is my steadfastness on independence. My independence means not favouring anyone... that is one of the elements I hold highly," she said.

Asked how he would handle emotionally-charged interactions with political parties during elections, Prof Mzamo Alexander Gumbi said dealing with politicians required a straightforward person.

"I am not involved with any political party, and I believe that one has to have a thick skin when dealing with politicians, or else you would collapse. You need a non-political person in order to deal with politicians efficiently," he said.

Special project adviser to President Jacob Zuma, Vuma Glenton Mashinini, said his days of being involved in politics ended after he was an anti-apartheid activist years ago.

"I am an adviser to the head of state, my role is professional and non-political," he said.

Mashinini was previously the Electoral Commission of SA's (IEC) deputy chief electoral officer.

SAHRC chairperson Lawrence Mushwana told Mashinini that the National Freedom Party had cautioned against appointing a candidate who was affiliated to a political party, and that the NFP believed Mashinini's role of working for Zuma would make him unsuitable for the position.

Mashinini said he was not a politician.

"Regarding the IEC, I was part of the commission before, years ago. Impartiality and objectivity are central to the organisation. I do not see any problems in that regard."

The interviewing panel is chaired by Mogoeng and comprises Mushwana, Commission for Gender Equality chairperson Mfanozelwe Shozi, and deputy Public Protector Kevin Malunga.

Read more on:    iec

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