Observers give IEC?top marks

2014-05-11 15:00

Despite an unprecedented 400 complaints from opposition parties about ­alleged irregularities, international ­observer missions have hailed the ­Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for a “credible, fair, free and ­transparent” election.

Observer missions from the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) appeared to read from the same script as their ­preliminary reports into the IEC’s handling of the elections painted a glowing picture.

But the United Democratic Movement (UDM) was critical of IEC staff members, accusing them of “looking the other way” when ANC members allegedly breached ­electoral rules forbidding campaigning near voting stations.

AU mission leader and former Ghana president John Kufuor said the IEC deserved a B++ for the “overall professionalism and efficiency” of its 218?000 staffers deployed in 22?000 polling stations.

SADC mission head Justice Mahapela Lehohla, who heads Lesotho’s IEC, said they would take many lessons home.

Kufuor said IEC staff members were well prepared and informed about the voting process in all the stations they had visited, and the behaviour of political parties around them was in line with electoral laws.

“The mission observed that the elaborate identification process put in place by the IEC ensured that only eligible voters were allowed to vote. It also noted the commission involved political party agents in making decisions regarding voters who did not have the proper means of identification.

“This inclusive and participatory process of decision-making ensured that tension was minimised in the polling stations during voting,” said Kufuor.

IEC chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya said while the number of complaints in the election had exceeded those of previous polls, this did not mean the process was chaotic.

“I will spend the next week looking at all the complaints and objections again to see whether we acted correctly.

“Although we have the highest number of complaints, we found that we could explain these issues quickly. The fact that we had this many complaints does not mean the voting process was flawed in any way,” said Moepya.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the commission would need to thoroughly explain how it had dealt with some of the alleged irregularities.

“The behaviour of some of the presiding officers was worrying and shows an IEC in close relations with the ANC and it casts aspersions on the integrity of the elections. Despite the ANC interfering with people, lobbying them in voting queues, busing people from outside their voting districts and handing out T-shirts, the IEC did not reprimand them. This tells me the IEC is simply embedded with the ANC,” said ­Holomisa.

Despite reports of dumped ballot ­boxes, ballot paper shortages and violence in areas including Alexandra, the IEC said these were “isolated incidents” which should not affect the outcome of the elections.

Elections: What’s next?

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