Complaints raised not enough to taint elections – Nelson Mandela Foundation

2019-05-10 19:30
IEC results centre
IEC results centre (File)

While this year's elections had some setbacks, the overall results were free and fair.

This is according to Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO, Sello Hatong and Jacky Seroke from the National Foundations Dialogue Initiative, who addressed the media at the IEC's national results operations centre in Tshwane on Friday.

Both were part of the Observer Missions for the elections, who deployed their teams to observe the efficiency and functionality of elections.

Issues they saw on the ground had also been brought to the attention of the IEC by other political parties, such as voting stations opening late or not at all, as well as insufficient ballot papers.

Other issues raised were the lack of privacy in voting booths, IEC staff not trained to deal with special votes, and the uncertainty surrounding what exactly a spoiled ballot is.

Hatang said there were two aspects that were outright negative:

"The scanners were insufficient with one scanner per voting stations, if the scanner faced any problems you had to wait for a new one to come through.

"Access for disabled voters is an important element that needs to be dealt with in terms of access to the station, but also in terms of standing in queues. We had instances where old people and disabled people were made to wait because the marshal… did not do what they were supposed to do."

Nicholas Van Wyk and Joseph Oko of the Southern African Institute for Business Accountants told News24 they decided to volunteer to observe access for disabled people during the elections.

Their observations lead them to conclude that disability access was much higher in urban areas than in rural areas.

"The IEC made provisions for people who had problems with their eyes, they had access to the Universal Ballot Template which is in Braille so they could easily identify who they wanted to vote for," said Oko.

"But some of these rural areas did not have all of this and I think that in the next election the IEC must endeavour to provide these things.

"In all of the areas that I went to there were no lower tables and no provisions for the ballot boxes to be brought lower for people on wheelchairs."

All the observers in this year's election will submit their recommendations to the IEC. While they admitted that the integrity of elections overall was secure, there were still areas which need addressing.

"These are tiny details, but the devil is in the details," said Seroke.

"Complaints raised are not substantial enough for the elections to be questioned that is why we believe the elections present well in terms of free and fair elections… what we do not want to advocate for is ignoring people's concerns," said Hatang.

Find everything you need to know about the 2019 National and Provincial Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections. Make sure your News24 app is updated to access all our elections coverage in one place.

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