Perfect election non-existent - IEC

2012-09-26 16:22

Pretoria - Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries have held many "credible" elections, an electoral official said on Wednesday.

Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson Pansy Tlakula told reporters in Pretoria that members of the 15-country bloc had held elections which had been declared free and fair by regional and international observers.

"You can never find a perfect election, it doesn’t exist. Our countries are capable of running credible elections. They have done that in the past," she said.

"We have made mistakes in the past and we have owned up to those mistakes. Where mistakes have been discovered, we have put in place mechanisms to resolve the problems," said Tlakula.

She was speaking in her capacity as president of the Electoral Commissions' Forum of SADC countries. The cluster is hosting a three-day professional development workshop in Pretoria with more than 50 delegates representing respective election management bodies.

Retired Constitutional Court Judge Johann Kriegler said the role of the election bodies was to run the polls administratively and not to solve problems in a particular society.

"Administratively, within this room and in this region, we have more than enough technical ability to run legitimate elections. I know of no reason why the electoral management bodies in our region should not be fully capable, technically, to run credible elections.

"Whether that is [finding] a political solution to the local societal problems - that is not an electoral body's job, it's a politician and society’s job," said Kriegler.

He said changing voting systems would not solve the problem of contested election outcomes, a common feature in the SADC region.

"People make systems work and systems don’t make people work. Electoral systems are strategies designed by human beings and [are] therefore fallible," he said.

"The basic idea is to have a legislature, or in the presidency, a body which represents a macro will in the micro picture. I don’t think changing electoral systems will solve any country’s problems by addressing them."

The Pretoria summit has been convened by the SADC electoral bodies in conjunction with the United Nations development programme and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

Several scholars, analysts and experts on elections were invited to the conference.

The summit was held as numerous countries in the SADC region are due to have elections in the next two years.

These include local government elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, national and provincial elections in South Africa, House of Assembly polls in Swaziland and the contentious referendum, presidential and parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe.

  • elgh.elgh - 2012-09-26 16:42

    We all know that you cook the results to suit yourselves, you might think we brain dead.

  • mark.schulz.796 - 2012-09-26 16:46

    Maybe a 'perfect' election does not exist; but some are objectively better than others in the spectrum!

  • rob.bayliss.94 - 2012-09-26 17:16

    Stinks of the usual cop-out....Of course perfection is by definition unatainable BUT.....In a credible democracy the objective will be to aim for a perfect election despite this reality. It would have been reassuring to hear that the IEC recognised this principle rather than excusing its own performances!

  • J.Stephen.Whiteley - 2012-09-26 18:36


  • sean.mitchell.3591 - 2012-09-26 22:04

    Are we being prepared for a dodgy one? Whithout stolen millions, ANC could not mount a campaign at all.

  • Quartus van Zyl - 2013-03-13 08:48

    Especially in Zimbabwe, they have these very fair and open elections

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