Don’t touch IEC. Don’t touch

2014-03-10 10:00

There is a symbiotic relationship between democracy and state institutions supporting constitutional democracy.

Our democratic order established three independent arms of state?–?an independent judiciary, the executive and Parliament.

With them, we established Chapter 9 institutions like the Public Protector and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Any act that undermines these institutions invariably undermines our democracy because they exist to support and strengthen our democracy.

As a nation, we must protect these institutions from any act that may erode their constitutionally sanctioned mandate.

As proof that the ANC does not appoint lapdogs, the Public Protector has probed even the highest office in the land without fear of any risk of unfair actions against her. But that does not mean the ANC does not have the right to differ, a right we fought for and a right that is part of our constitutional order.

The ANC will caution anyone or any party who vilifies the Public Protector or the IEC without regard to fair criticism as such pronouncements erode the integrity of these institutions.

The IEC is the bedrock of our democracy. As the Freedom Charter states: “No government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people.”

It is therefore imprudent to undermine the IEC, which has delivered free and fair elections over 20 years of democracy. Our democracy is so strong without civil conflicts over its legitimacy because the officers of these institutions have acted impartially across the political spectrum.

Recent populist challenges against the IEC stoke the fires that have engulfed developing countries?–?an outcome that does not serve the interests of our country nor the interests of democracy.

Anyone in our country has the right to challenge a decision, act or conduct by the Public Protector, the IEC or any institution without resorting to demeaning language that undermines the integrity of the people or officials who discharge the constitutional mandates of the institutions.

The ANC’s stance is two-pronged in such instances:?to defend the integrity of these institutions and the right of any individual or party to differ where their mandate has been overstepped.

The bottom line is that no one in society is above the Constitution and the law, which clearly spell out remedial avenues.

A good story we have as a country is a sound, fit democracy envied by other nations and which enables the unimpeded role by anyone who seeks to participate in the opportunities afforded by the democratic dispensation. No one should trample on this good story for the sake of political expediency.

Mthembu is the ANC spokesperson

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