Search for IEC commissioners gets underway

2018-06-25 19:20


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The search for three commissioners for the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) got off smoothly on Monday morning, as candidates took the hot seat before Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

The IEC has scheduled the interviews for three days.

On the panel with Mogoeng is Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the Human Rights Commission's Angie Makwetla, and Tamara Mathebula from the Commission on Gender Equality.

According to information provided by My Vote Counts and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, 26 candidates have been shortlisted for three commissioner vacancies at the IEC.

The panel received a total of 119 nominations.

The first candidate was Alan Griffin Campbell.

Campbell said that, as part of the institution's founding team, he'd felt a sense of ownership.

"It must remain independent and serve the general public. Commissioners are the soldiers of the Constitution."

According to his CV, Campbell is competent in the area of elections management.

One of the questions that most of the candidates was asked was how they would deal with the capturing of the South Africans on the voters' roll.  

The IEC is still to register 2.2 million voters who have no recorded home addresses.

A further 3.4 million had incomplete or generic addresses. This after the Constitutional Court ordered it, in 2016, to place the addresses of those voters who had not been recorded onto their database by June 2018.

'Countries burn and people die when elections go wrong'

The commission asked the Constitutional Court last week for a 17-month extension to capture the details of the remaining voters.

"Countries burn and people die when elections go wrong. We as officials cannot afford for that to happen," said Campbell.

He said he was not a card-carrying member of any political party.

"I grew up in Alexandra. My family was very involved. I have been affected, but I have chosen not to be a card-carrying member.

He said the 2019 elections may be the most contested since 1994.

"This puts a lot of pressure on the IEC."

Commissioner Reverend Bongani Finca, whose term ends in November, said he would love to serve for another term.

Drawing lessons from the 2016 local government elections, Finca said: "There were discrepancies… When you hear of ballot boxes being found on the side of the road…"

Finca said the incidents had been caused by lack of adequate training.

"Sometimes people suffer from fatigue and that is when that sort of carelessness creeps in."

When asked if the IEC would comply fully with the Constitutional Court order to have all the voters' addresses reflected on the national voters' roll by June 30, he said: "We have made an application to get an extension. We have realised that we will not have all the addresses."

Candidate's comment offends

During his interview, Finca emphasised the importance of security, particularly vetting people who would be handling sensitive information.

Professor Mzamo Alexander Gumbi's interview started off on the wrong foot, with him making a light comment about "being fit enough, he could take a younger wife".

His comments offended Mathebula.

Making recommendations on how he would improve the IEC, Gumbi said the commission needed to employ a spokesperson, and also proposed that the country should vote electronically.

Advocate Edward Nkhangweleni Lambani had a problem disclosing if he belonged to a specific political party. "I have not found it necessary to say which party I belong to. There is one that I like," he said.

Mogoeng then told him that judges also have to disclose which political party they are affiliated with, and that this was not an unusual question. Mogoeng, however, said he respected Lambani's decision.

The interviews will continue on Tuesday.  

Read more on:    iec  |  elections 2019

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