IEC reassures of free, fair elections

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pretoria - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has reassured Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi that the 2009 General Elections will be as transparent as possible.

This follows allegations made by Mr Buthelezi that the upcoming elections will not be free and fair as a result of the recent violence experienced in Nongoma.

"It is unfortunate that the leader of the IFP claims that these elections (national and provincial) will not be free and fair, citing developments (recent violence) in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal.

"The process of simplifying and engendering confidence in the electoral process has been a product of extensive consultation with South Africa's political parties, including the IFP Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi who has alleged that based on past experiences the elections will not be free and fair," said the IEC.

The Commission said it has always respected the views of all political parties and taken them seriously as a way of safe-guarding the credibility of the elections.

"We have had several meetings with the IFP to address their concerns and have taken their suggestions into consideration as they have done with other political parties," the IEC said.

The IEC also reminded the IFP of the Code of Conduct they signed with the Commission." The Code of Conduct prohibits any party or individual from damaging the credibility of the IEC."

The Commission said it worked with various organisations, including the IFP, traditional leaders, security structures, non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations towards ensuring a climate conducive to peaceful elections.

Electoral staff members, the IEC said, were selected via a multi-party process and all electoral officials were required to perform their duties without fear, favour or prejudice.

"Electoral legislation prohibits an electoral official from giving support to or opposing any registered party or damaging the credibility, impartiality, independence or integrity of the Electoral Commission by any membership, association or conduct," the IEC said.

The IEC reassured all political parties and the public that it had adopted clear guidelines and criteria for recruitment to deal with matters such as party-political profiles.

"We respect the right of individuals to belong to political organisations of their choice. However, they are not supposed to be office bearers, hold high political profiles or be active in political organisations," the IEC said.

Party representatives were also given an opportunity to raise any substantive objections against any person being appointed as a presiding officer.

The IEC said it enjoys good working relationships with all political parties and is satisfied that all complaints are and will be dealt with speedily and satisfactorily.