Wednesday, January 28, 2009

IEC on track for elections

By Mishkah Anthony
28 January 2008

The Independent Electoral Commission yesterday briefed Parliament Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on the commission’s state of readiness to oversee the elections and the second and final voter registration weekend on February 7 and 8.

Expectations are high that President Kgalema Motlanthe will announce the date of the elections during his state of the nation address next Friday. Home Affairs Portfolio Committee Chairperson Patrick Chauke asked if the IEC is ready, should the President announce the date next week.

Bam said the commission was following a “very strict timetable” and that their CEO Pansy Tlakula, has kept every political party informed of the time frames and that according to the Constitution elections should be held before the April, 15.

“On that date we will get every person to open those voting stations – but the president of this nation, according to the Constitution, has to decide on the date, in consultation with us.”

Bam said although this year’s election will be exciting, it will also serve as a new challenge for the country as the world will be observing the 2009 elections.

“We depend entirely on the credibility of our elections on the political parties, who now would have a different role at voting stations this time around; the political parties will have access to the voters roll.

“So there is no way in which there are suspicions that there are people that are voting that are not registered.”

Bam says that is just one of the many ways the IEC has tried to ensure credible elections this year. They have also acquired 30 000 new scanners,also referred to as zip-zips for the 19 713 voting stations across the country.

The zip –zips will be used to scan the “very important reports” that come from polling stations, pieces of paper will no longer be passed around. It will now be scanned to computers. Bam said if any party want check results of a particular station, it will be on the computer.

Bam said she hopes in the future South Africa will adopt what other countries have done, that the person who becomes presiding officer is a person who qualifies and has formal training to do it. She says she hopes this country continues to professionalise elections.

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