Parliament, Saturday, 21 May 2022 – The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs received a report on the 2021 Local Government Elections and has emphasised the need for the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to strengthen its electoral processes, especially to voters roll and the utilisation of Voter Management Devices.
Yesterday, the Electoral Commission appeared before the committee to brief the committee on the 2021 local government report. The committee accepted the report and underscored the need for concerted action on areas of concern.
The committee reiterated its confidence in the IEC and said the entity remains the prime institution to deliver credible, free and fair elections. “With this said, the committee noted various challenges during the local government elections that need to be addressed to ensure that they don’t negatively impact on the credibility of the next elections. The issue of voters not seeing their names on the voters roll where they registered was one primary challenge that IEC must address,” said Mr Mosa Chabane, the Chairperson of the committee.
While the committee acknowledges the peculiar conditions under which the 2021 elections were held, it remains of the view that shortcomings must be urgently addressed. To this end, it accepted that the by-election process that the IEC is continually undertaking will go a long way in strengthening electoral processes.
The committee has also urged the IEC to look into the training of electoral officials to ensure that advice and operation of the electoral process is standardised and to ensure that advice provided at any voter registration is standard. The committee said while it is aware of the budgetary constraints the IEC is faced with, it remains of the view that training remains a critical component to deliver credible elections.
The committee also reiterated the concern about low voter turnout during the 2021 elections and has highlighted the importance of voter education to increase voter participation. “Although we acknowledge the various contributory factors to low voter turnout, we urge the IEC together with its stakeholders such as political parties to contribute to voter education to reverse the worrying trend of voter apathy,” Mr Chabane emphasised.
The committee has resolved that there will be a need for a wide-ranging assessment of the 2021 electoral process to ensure that shortcomings are addressed before the 2024 provincial and national elections. This is even more necessary if consideration is to be given to the Electoral Amendment Bill which the committee is presently processing.
The committee has deferred a decision on a recommendation to fill a vacancy within the Electoral Commission as per Section 6 of the Electoral Commission Act, 1996 (Act 51 of 1996) in order to give Members of Parliament time and space to consider the report from the Chief Justice. It will recommend one candidate from the list of eight candidates submitted to it by a panel led by the Chief Justice to the National Assembly next week.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HOME AFFAIRS, MR MOSA CHABANE.
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