statement by Deputy-National Secretary
Despite promises by the IEC and the government that everything is in place for registration in the five provinces, the situation on the ground is a disaster. Thousands of South Africans may very well ask themselves whether today is the first of April. Phones at the UDM National Office and in the five provincial offices have not stopped ringing as people are reporting complaints. At the National Office staff were redeployed to answer calls and take down complaints.
Some of the more common complaints are:
1. Registration stations did not open because officials did not arrive. No explanation was provided and no provisions for alternatives were made.
2. In certain areas registration points that were advertised did not exist. An example of this is registration station no. 123 Cnr. Flufftail and Braam Pretorius streets, Flufftail Park, Montana in Pretoria.
3. Batteries of the scanners became flat and the IEC officials did not; have extra batteries or chargers available and as a result closed the registration stations.
4. In Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and Soshanguve registration stations did not have the voting district maps and as a result could not continue with the registration process.
5. In Cullinan the scanners did not work and voters were told they would be registered manually – How is this possible?; Why then the whole fuss about bar-coded ID?
6. In all Provinces reports were received of ANC officials wearing ANC
T-shirts and handing out ANC pamphlets and material inside the registration station. A direct contravention of the Electoral Act.7. Inside registration stations there are no way to distinguish between IEC officials and ANC officials. The President and the Deputy President of the UDM experienced first hand the level of confusion and ANC biased in the registration process. When they wanted to complete the registration form, they were confronted with an ANC form and not a registration form. The UDM took these forms and other ANC documentation from the registration station to hand in as part of the complaint. The ANC official though confronted with this continued as if nothing happened and with us and the media present, took the form of an unexpected member of the public.8.Within the IEC confusion reigns. Three calls to the same number provided three completely different answers – and that on a basic question like what is the rule regarding where one should register: should it be where you stay, where you work, a choice of those or can you register at any point?
Call 1: You can register where ever you want.
Call 2: You must register in your voting district.
Call 3: You can register where ever you want in Gauteng, but that address that you gave me where you stay does not exist. (Names of officials available)
We can laugh about the situation, we can make jokes about the situation, and urban legends will develop as a result of the situation. The fact of the matter remains that the South African democracy is under threat. ;At the end of this weekend millions of South Africans would not have been able to take the first step in what is a fundamental right enshrined in our constitution. The IEC must take responsibility for the threat the South African democracy is under.
South Africans are entitled to have answers to the following questions:
1. Why was proper planning not done and logistics not in place?
2. What will the IEC do to rectify the situation and to ensure that there will not be a repetition of the chaos next weekend and on subsequent registration dates?
3. What steps will the IEC take to ensure South Africans an acceptable level of organisation for the 1999 elections?
4. Will the IEC take steps against those IEC officials who are responsible for the chaos experienced today?
Will they be removed and replaced by competent people?The IEC is serving the people of South Africa. They are accountable for all their actions and for the money that they spend to the South African tax payer and voter public – not to any political party and definitely not to the ANC government. There can be no talk of an African Renaissance, South Africa as the custodians of democracy or of South Africa playing a leading role in Africa if we do not get our own house in order. Countries with less infrastructure than South Africa run elections and the administration of elections far more efficiently and effectively. What South Africans experienced today is unjust and an insult to the years of struggle for a liberated and democratic South Africa.