ANC at war with IEC

2016-09-25 06:17
Gwede Mantashe (City Press).

Gwede Mantashe (City Press).

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Trust in the IEC has declined since 2011 - survey

2016-09-09 15:45

South Africa’s electoral management body, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), is one of the most trusted amongst 36 countries surveyed by Afrobarometer – but public trust has declined since 2011. Watch. WATCH

Johannesburg - Following the ANC’s dismal performance in the recent local government elections, the party has been involved in a behind-the-scenes war with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) – with party leaders alleged to have labelled the commission’s deputy chairperson “an enemy”.

The simmering tensions between the ANC and IEC culminated in an emotionally charged high-level meeting between the electoral commissioners and the governing party’s top five officials at Luthuli House on Monday.

ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa led the governing party’s delegation, while IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini led that body’s contingent.

The meeting ended with no resolution, and a follow-up discussion is to be scheduled.

City Press can reveal that:

. ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and his deputy, Jessie Duarte, allegedly verbally attacked IEC vice-chairperson Terry Tselane at the post-results dinner on August 6 in the presence of President Jacob Zuma and accused him of being an “enemy”.

. The ANC is angry with the IEC for its decision to drastically reduce the number of teachers – most of whom belong to the ANC-aligned SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) – being accorded positions as electoral officers during election time.

. After the August 3 elections, the governing party objected to alleged ties with Israel enjoyed by an information technology company used by the IEC, despite the fact that the company had worked with the electoral body since 1997. It is feared that this could open doors for a company seen to have allegiance to the ANC.

. There is fear within the IEC that the governing party wants a less independent IEC as its electoral fortunes decline.

Correspondence obtained by City Press reveal that Tselane complained to Mashinini and the rest of the commissioners that he had been “abused” and labelled an enemy by Mantashe and Duarte.

In a letter written to his fellow IEC commissioners – and seen by City Press – Tselane detailed his frustrations at having been subjected to hostility by the ANC for some time. In the letter Tselane describes having been confronted by Mantashe in front of Zuma as he stood to greet the ANC secretary-general. He alleged that Mantashe angrily charged that “if he [Mantashe] was younger, he would organise people to deal with me”.


This week, Mantashe denied the ANC was bullying the IEC or that there were tensions.

According to Tselane’s letter, Mantashe also said he (Tselane) was photographed meeting businessman Tiego Moseneke in the presence of Dali Mpofu, chairperson of the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Being with Mpofu suggested he was fraternising with the opposition.

Moseneke, Mpofu and Tselane are former student leaders of the Black Student Society at University of the Witwatersrand and have been leading an initiative to get alumni to contribute to a fund in aid of poor students at tertiary institutions.

Tselane said being followed and secretly photographed could be linked with other instances which he had reported to the Public Protector, after mysterious people informed him that he was being followed and that they had electronic records of his movements.

As a result, Tselane requested protection services from the IEC.

Tselane refused to comment on the contents of the letter when contacted yesterday, referring questions to the IEC.

Issues of mutual concern

Mashinini on Saturday did not respond directly to questions, except to confirm that commissioners met with the ANC to “discuss issues of mutual concern”.

He emphasised it was standard not to address engagements with political parties through the media. “At that meeting it was agreed that follow-up discussions would take place regarding the matters raised, including – where appropriate – referring them to the multiparty National Political Party Liaison Committee.”

In the letter, sent to all commissioners five days after the incident, Tselane detailed how Mantashe insisted that Tselane had imposed on the IEC the decision to bar teachers. This was to the benefit of the opposition.

“I told him I did not have such powers and that one individual cannot impose his view on the whole organisation. He told me that, according to their information, this falls under my responsibility and that I imposed this position on the organisation,” he stated in the letter.

The IEC has, over the years, employed teachers as electoral officers because they are generally the most literate in many communities. Opposition parties have claimed Sadtu members performing this role abused their positions at voting stations and counting centres to favour the ANC. Teachers now make up only 6% of electoral staff.

Tselane went on to write that “Mr Mantashe told me that I have become a mouthpiece of the opposition parties and that the ANC is worried about my conduct ... that there is a trend that it as the ANC has been observing”.


In another confrontation that same night Duarte flatly refused to greet Tselane, also labelling him an “enemy”.

“She told me that the ANC regards me as an enemy and that I have stooped to the lowest level ever, and that I’m irredeemable and the ANC has lost hope and confidence in me. I complained immediately to the president [Zuma], who was listening when Ms Duarte raised her issues with me, and he assured me that this was not the position of the ANC.

“I told the president that I have been subjected to this abuse by some in the ANC and that Luthuli House sees me as the enemy,” reads the letter.

Duarte refused to comment.

When contacted for comment, Mantashe asked: “Do you now want us to go back to the 3rd of August?”

Mantashe said he was not going to assist City Press in destroying the legitimacy of the IEC.

“If you want to destroy the legitimacy of the IEC, do it on your own,” he said.

“Do not invite me on that mission. You are inviting me to do exactly what we avoided when we had problems regarding ballot papers found in Nelson Mandela Bay and everywhere else.”

He said problems with the IEC were discussed internally on an ongoing basis.

“When they [the IEC] call a meeting, we attend because we respect the institution and we never release the information. But they, in turn, give out the information to you. Who is targeting who here?” asked Mantashe.

As the municipal election results were gradually being released, Mantashe and Tselane clashed in front of journalists when the ANC leader confronted the IEC’s vice-chair about DA leader Mmusi Maimane “declaring” victory in metros, including Nelson Mandela Bay, before the official announcement was made.

The ANC then wrote a letter of complaint to the IEC, stating that this unofficial announcement of results “could be misleading and might have the consequence of provoking political tensions – especially if, subsequently, the official results differ from those announced,” read the letter, referring to a provision in the Municipal Electoral Act regarding the undesirability of unofficial pronouncements.

Mantashe told City Press that Tselane was trying to be a martyr, but in fact, “umosha izinto [he was ruining things]”.

Loyalties questioned

Approached for comment, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the allegations placed a grey cloud over other electoral commissioners.

“It will not be far-fetched to question whether their loyalties are with the country, its citizens and the Constitution – or with the ANC.

“This is important because from these allegations, it is clear that any electoral commissioner who does not sweeten the ANC will be regarded as an enemy and will be dealt with,” he said.

Holomisa added that, given the allegations, he would write to Mashinini requesting an urgent meeting of the leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament.

The DA’s Maimane said threats made to any IEC official must be met with legal and parliamentary sanction.

“We must understand that we cannot discredit commissioners and seek to discredit that institution. We cannot intimidate chapter nine institutions.”

Maimane described the meeting between the ANC and IEC as “sinister”.

“It goes beyond the functioning of the IEC and targets individuals in that institution.

“They want to deploy their people to these positions. That is undemocratic,” he said.

Read more on:    anc  |  iec  |  elections  |  local elections 2016

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