Increase in by-elections diverts resources from 2019 elections – IEC

2018-06-19 20:52
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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The fragile coalition governments formed after the 2016 municipal elections have led to an increase in by-elections, forcing the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to use money meant for the upcoming national and provincial elections to run them.

The IEC told Parliament's Select Committee on Social Services on Monday that it was facing financial constraints.

The IEC briefed the committee on its readiness for the general election, expected to take place between May 8 – when the fifth Parliament's term comes to an end – and August 2019.

Chairperson of the IEC Glen Mashinini said the commission was fully committed to delivering free and fair elections next year.

"We believe we are in a position to ensure we meet our constitutional mandate," he said. He said as things stood, the IEC had the personnel and structures in place.

The commission, however, highlighted some risk factors for next year's election.

Cyber-attacks, protests also risks

IEC senior manager on election matters Granville Abrahams said fiscal constraints were some of the risks as the increasing use of litigation to resolve electoral disputes had placed additional strain on the commission's resources.

He said further to this, the fragile coalitions led to an increase in the number of by-elections. According to the IEC's presentation, this diverts resources away from the general elections.

Cyber-attacks are also a risk factor. "Fortunately for us, we do not have an electronic voting system," Abrahams said.

Nonetheless, the IEC is conducting research on cyber-attacks to ensure it has the necessary checks and balances in place.

Protests also pose a continual risk to the smooth running of elections.

The rise of internal conflict in parties, often related to the list process, is also a cause for concern.

"It would be a sad day when we as a country have disputed elections," committee chairperson Landulile Dlamini said.

Read more on:    iec

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