The IEC's deputy chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
The IEC's deputy chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) says it is confident that a possible departure of three of its five commissioners will not negatively affect its preparations for the 2019 election.

The terms of the three commissioners — Rev Bongani Finca, Terry Tselane and Judge Thami Makhanya — are likely to come to an end this year, ahead of a key election in 2019 that is largely expected to be the most tightly fought since 1994.

Their possible departures also raise the possibility that the key 2019 general election could potentially be run by a relatively new team of commissioners.

But chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo confirmed to Business Day that both Finca and Makhanya’s terms could be renewed. Tselane has served the maximum number of terms for an electoral commissioner and must now be replaced.

Mamabolo expressed confidence in the process of appointing new commissioners, saying he had no doubt that the process would ensure the best minds would be drawn in to enrich the institution.

This comes as the IEC is under pressure to ensure that it complies with a Constitutional Court ruling in which it has to verify addresses of all those on the voters roll.

Mamabolo said the process to replace the commissioners or extend their terms was driven by the chief justice, who along with a panel of Chapter Nine institution heads would conduct interviews and submit a short list to Parliament.

Parliament will then make recommendations to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will make the final appointments.

Mamabolo hailed the past weekend’s first IEC registration drive as a success. More than 2.7-million voters turned out to register or update their registration details. Of these, 490,520 were voters registering for the first time.

Gauteng registered the most new voters but it still lagged nationally in terms of the percentage of residents registered to vote. The IEC said this could be attributed to the fluid nature of the population in Gauteng and high levels of immigration. Gauteng, a critical battleground for the 2019 poll, has replaced KwaZulu-Natal as the most populated province in the country.