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Retiring election commissioners have earned gratitude

The Editor, The Times Newspaper | 2011-10-14 00:02:27.0

The Times Editorial: Parliament has paid tribute to four retiring members of the Independent Electoral Commission, including the commission's chairman, Brigalia Bam.

The farewell lunch in the Old Assembly building of parliament was a fitting tribute to Bam and the other outgoing IEC stalwarts - deputy chairman Thoko Mpumlwana, and commissioners Fanie van der Merwe and Terry Tselane - who have served South Africa so well.

As the chairman of the Home Affairs parliamentary portfolio committee, Maggie Maunye, pointed out, the commission has come a long way since the Codesa talks and the multiparty negotiation forum that culminated in our adoption of one of the world's most progressive constitutions and the establishment of the IEC as an independent statutory body.

Noting that Bam and Van der Merwe had been with the commission since the dawn of South African democracy, in 1994, when the electoral team had only seven months in which to prepare for the landmark poll, Maunye said: "These elections became a beacon of hope, signifying the miraculous transition for which South Africa has come to be known."

The IEC, first under the leadership of Judge Johann Kriegler, played a pivotal role in delivering the 1994 election in the face of enormous logistical challenges and a political environment fraught with uncertainty.

Bam, who took over the helm in 1999, helped cement the commission's reputation as credible and fiercely independent.

Despite the robustness of our politics, the commission's track record in delivering credible, free and fair elections is impeccable.

A special parliamentary committee has recommended that Tselane serve a second seven-year term.

Among the other nominees are Pansy Tlakula, the commission's respected chief electoral officer, former presidency head Frank Chikane, former Democratic Alliance MP Raenette Taljaard and the Rev Bongani Finca.

Future elections will be in good hands.

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