SA Parliament hails election veteran as head of IEC
Simon Mamabolo was previously the deputy chief electoral officer and also served as the provincial electoral officer for Gauteng
Parliament on Wednesday hailed the appointment of Simon Mamabolo as CEO of the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), saying his rise to the helm of the chapter 9 institution points to systematic succession planning that will ensure skill retention.
Mamabolo, a seasoned electoral officer, has been acting CEO since March when the IEC’s then head, Mosotho Moepya, chose not to renew his contract.
Mamabolo was previously the deputy chief electoral officer and also served as the provincial electoral officer for Gauteng.
Mamabolo’s first major task will be to implement the Constitutional Court ruling pertaining to incorporating addresses into the voters roll in preparation for the 2019 national and provincial elections, said Parliament’s home affairs committee chairperson Lemias Mashile.
In 2016‚ the electoral court ordered the IEC to postpone by-elections in Tlokwe‚ North West after opposition parties successfully argued that the commission was compelled to provide addresses for everyone on the voters’ roll.
The opposition parties had approached the court following allegations that the ANC had manipulated the roll‚ with some voters casting their ballots where they were not registered to vote.
The IEC took the decision on review to the Constitutional Court‚ questioning whether the lack of addresses served to invalidate the entire voters’ roll.
In June 2016‚ the court ordered the IEC to collect the addresses of everyone on the voters’ roll after December 2013. It also ordered the institution to provide progress reports every six months.
"The credibility of elections hinges on the accuracy of the voters roll. The absence of addresses remains a critical risk to the credibility of election," Mamabolo said on Wednesday after his appointment was confirmed.
On the same day the IEC (on Wednesday) launched an online address capture campaign which will allow South Africa’s registered voters to check, confirm and update their address details via the commission’s website. The initiative forms part of the ongoing campaign by the IEC to obtain the addresses for all voters as well as ensuring that voters are registered in correct voting district segments in line with the ruling of the Constitutional Court.
The IEC’s analysis was that of 26-million registered voters on the voters’ roll‚ about 19-million have addresses. About three million do not have addresses and about four million do not have complete addresses, Mamabolo said.
"Much progress has been made but we remain highly conscious that a huge undertaking remains in order to meet requirements of the law within the timeframe provided by the Constitutional Court‚" he said.
He said the absence of addresses remained a critical risk to the integrity of elections and that the IEC had already received a number of objections and postponements to by-elections this year on the basis of the accuracy of the voters’ roll
Mamabolo added that Treasury had committed R180m in the next financial year to assist with the massive address harvesting campaign.
However, IEC vice-chairperson Terry Tselane said simply obtaining a physical address was only half the challenge. He said there more than 22‚600 voting districts in SA in more than 4‚500 wards‚ with only lines on the map dividing voting districts and wards.
"Sometimes there is very little to distinguish between two voting districts, which may be a matter of metres apart. One of the ways to resolve the challenge of the high degree of accuracy required is to propose amendments to the electoral legislation which will require the registration of a voter in the relevant ward rather than the relevant voting district. This will significantly reduce the pin-point accuracy required without any impact on the election outcome‚" Tselane said.