Q&A with IEC commissioner Mosotho Moepya

Recent behaviour by the EFF and ANC raises questions about the ability of the Electoral Commission of SA to ensure free and fair elections. Chris Barron asked commissioner Mosotho Moepya

17 March 2019 - 00:00 By Chris Barron

How important is it that parties observe the electoral code?
It is very important.
And that consequences should follow swiftly if they don't?
It is just as important.
Why haven't we see this in the recent case involving the EFF?
I'm not sure which case you're referring to. There are two currently being investigated.
But still no consequences?
That's not correct. The first EFF case was reported to us on Saturday. We began an investigation immediately. We're going to be concluding [it] soon. You can't act inappropriately just because you have to be seen to be acting swiftly. Once we have investigated it's for the electoral court to determine the sanction.
How long will your probe take?
Parties have to help us. We give them an opportunity to approach us so we can approach the court with facts that are verifiable. That's the process. Sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes they can be difficult.
Isn't there a need to speed the process up?
We cannot without a valid complaint just jump . and say we're going to investigate you. There's a real danger you could be seen to be acting with bias.
Don't you need to be more proactive?
We want to act as quickly as possible, but have to be mindful that we are not the body that issues sanctions. And people . can go directly to the electoral court.
Can you chivvy the court to act more quickly?
We don't have to. They have good rules and act expeditiously.
Should leaders be held accountable for the behaviour of their members?
Yes, absolutely.
So when can we expect consequences for Julius Malema?
We are driving it as hard as we can, as fast as we can. Once we are satisfied with the evidence and have the co-operation of the parties.
How much time do they have to co-operate?
We normally write them a letter and give them 48 hours or so to come back to us.
Any point having a code that is not promptly enforced?
The question has not arisen of us not wishing to enforce the code.
Is it OK for parties to bully the public broadcaster?
I don't have the details of that .
Is it appropriate for the ruling party's campaign boss to have a private meeting with the top SABC executive in the middle of an election campaign?
If anyone alleges the SABC is being pressured to do a favour, that is prohibited by the code.
Have you investigated the allegation?
No allegation has been made to us that I'm aware of.
When it's in the media shouldn't you be more proactive?
I'd like to think we are proactive. But where people allege that a private meeting has taken place for which we don't have evidence, we can't simply say there's been a violation of the code.

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