IEC rejects voting fears

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

The Independent Electoral Commission yesterday rejected IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi's utterances that next week's elections will not be free and fair, especially in KwaZulu-Natal.

The IEC has also suggested that Buthelezi may have breached a code of conduct by "damaging the credibility of the IEC".

Buthelezi, speaking in Durban this week, said that he was not confident that the elections would be free and fair.

He said the deployment of police in Nongoma, northern Zululand, was part of "dirty tricks by the ANC to intimidate voters".

IEC chairperson Brigalia Bam said they had "taken significant steps to make the 2009 national and provincial elections as transparent as possible".

Bam said the process of simplifying and engendering confidence in the electoral process has been a product of extensive consultation with political parties, including the IFP.

"It is unfortunate that the IFP leader claims that the elections will not be free and fair, citing developments in Nongoma.

"The IEC has always respected the views of all political parties and taken them seriously as a way of safeguarding the credibility of the elections.

"The IEC has held numerous meetings with the IFP to address their concerns and have taken their suggestions into consideration, as we have done with other parties," Bam said.

She said the IEC works with various organisations, including the IFP, traditional leaders, security structures, NGOs and civil society organisations to ensure peaceful elections.

Electoral staff is selected through a multi-party process and all electoral officials are required to perform their duties without fear, favour or prejudice.

Bam said: "The commission has 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, the representatives are not supposed to be office bearers, hold high political profiles or be active in political organisations," she said.

"The commission's code of conduct, which the IFP signed, prohibits any political party or individual from damaging the credibility of the IEC," Bam added.