Politics bankrupt IEC: democracy on knife edge statement by Deputy-President (5 November 1998)

The South African voter public may well become the victim and democracy the corps that will be buried as a result of the ANC and opposition parties unwillingness to provide sufficient funding to the IEC. The UDM has warned from the outset that the amount made available to the IEC to conduct the elections, is not enough. This affects the smooth running of the elections as well as the independence of the IEC. The UDM's fears have now become reality.

It was reported today at a National Party Liaison Committee that the IEC only have enough money to continue their work until the middle of November. The IEC was awarded a budget of R500 million, this after they requested a budget of R1.1 billion. Only a further R100 million was added to the budget though the IEC requested a further R600 million from the supplementary budget. None of the political parties in parliament supported the IEC in their request for more money.

Because of the shortage in the budget, the IEC took the decision to register voters only for three days. The IEC does not have more money available to spend on registration. The decision not to grant people abroad and prisoners a voting opportunity was also taken because of the budget shortage. At any given point in time there are 250 000 South Africans in London alone. With a three-day registration process, this figure will escalate together with South Africans in South Africa, who will not be in their voting districts during the registration days, will be added, and will not be able to vote. Because of budget constraints, they will be deprived of their democratic right to vote as contained in the Bill of Rights.

Though, the IEC did indicate that, if the registration percentage is unsatisfactory after the period lapsed, they will approach parliament for funds, so as to continue registering voters, this will only become obvious at the end of November, and it will remain subject to funds being made available. It is the UDM's opinion that the IEC will not be able to stick to the current timeframe and that the date of the elections will be affected.

The 1999 elections are heading for disaster. It is obvious when it comes to voting money to themselves, political parties will do so very easily as they have done with the "Funding of Political Parties Bill."; The UDM can not but question the ANC's political motives in providing such an inadequate budget to the IEC. Can it be that the ANC does not want to see the elections take place in 1999?; How do you explain spending R80 million per week "enforcing" democracy in a neighbouring state, but you are not willing to provide sufficient funds for your own democracy.

The UDM challenges political parties in parliament to ensure that the election process is properly funded; demonstrate your seriousness with democracy - ensure free and fair elections.

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