Mr Glen Mashinini
Chairperson of the Electoral Commission
Private Bag X112

Dear Mr Mashinini

The IEC’s draconian expectation that staff members continue with in-person training of electoral staff whilst Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions are in place

1. As we in South Africa are dealing with unprecedented challenges amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and at the moment are expected to adhere to Level 4 restrictions, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) finds the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) callous attitude towards its permanent and temporary staff quite baffling.

2. We are in possession of correspondence in which the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) raised this grave issue with the IEC, and it seems as if Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Sy Mamabolo, has to date met them with out-and-out resistance.

3. I attach some of NEHAWU’s correspondence to this letter (Annexure A, Annexure B), which details their arguments, but wish to add the UDM’s voice in saying that the IEC is firstly in essence ignoring the spirit and letter of the regulations as they stand at Level 4 and secondly are literally toying with people’s lives.

4. Covid-19 and the risk of its spread and the risk of your permanent and temporary staff’s infection is extremely high as we contend with a disease that should not be toyed with. As you are aware, this is not merely a flu that simply puts people in bed for a couple of days, but could cost people their lives.

5. If Mr Mamabolo and the IEC’s management cannot understand that the Level 4 regulations prohibit gatherings in the first instance and that these in-person training sessions constitutes gatherings and, more importantly, heightens the risk of infection and could cost people their lives, I certainly expect that you and the commissioners have the moral compass necessary to do so.

6. The UDM calls on the IEC and the Electoral Commissioners to put the lives of their staff first. Your staff is genuinely afraid and have a right to be afraid to continue with these duties you are forcing them to comply with. Please stop the in-person training until President Ramaphosa makes the announcement that we will go to a lower lockdown level, or find another manner in which to conduct this training.

7. I hope to hear from you soonest possible as this situation is dire and untenable for your staff.

Yours sincerely

Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
President of the United Democratic Movement

Copied to:

Mr Sy Mamabolo, Chief Electoral Officer of the Independent Electoral Commission

Mr Bongani Msomi, UDM Secretary General and member on the National Party Liaison Committee
Ms Thandi Nontenja, UDM National Treasurer and member on the National Party Liaison Committee