Discontent about Sadtu members working as IEC officials is overkill: electoral chief
The IEC has dismissed allegations that it has been infiltrated by members of the ANC-aligned South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu).
Claims that Sadtu members often work as temporary IEC staff during elections were made by several parties during the weekend's first voter registration campaign. They said they were opposed to this because of the union's affiliation with the ruling party.
However, the IEC said the situation was not as dire as it was made out to be.
The commission was reporting to the National Assembly's portfolio committee on home affairs regarding preparations for the 2024 national and provincial elections.
“As you know, we now know who belongs to which establishment, but that is notwithstanding the fact that in terms of the constitution, people have a right to freedom of association,” said IEC chair Mosotho Moepya.
“What was important is, when we developed the criteria, [these things were already discussed and it was] declared that anyone who holds party-political office — for example, a person we employ is serving in the executive of an institution that has party-political aims — that person cannot be employed and the parties object to that.”
Moepya likened the situation to two elephants fighting while the grass suffered. “In this instance, we are the grass and we ask for restraint.
“At a practical level, those objections have been dealt with, but for some reason, in the media and at a political level, we still have that challenge. We do engage with political parties in different forums and we have also indicated to Sadtu [that it demonstrate] restraint on the matter and assist us, as it were.”
Criteria for the IEC's application for a workforce was rigorous. It used people in its employ and there was an objection process, Moepya added.
“Names of persons we employ ... are made available to party liaison committees. This past registration weekend ... was no exception. Names of staff were given to party liaison committees ... We received 12 objections and they were dealt with very swiftly.”
Home affairs deputy minister Njabulo Nzuza said the department's offices were open at the weekend to enable those needing to obtain or replace their IDs to participate in the drive, with few glitches reported.
“At the core of our operations ... was mainly collections to make sure those with identity documents with us were able to collect them. It was also to make sure that those needing to apply for temporary identification certificates could be helped [immediately].
“We had about 20,350 people come in. We had 9,312 clients who came to collect their smart ID cards, as well as 8,832 who came in to apply for smart ID cards.”
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