Postponement of registration statement by Deputy-National Secretary (24 November 1998)

The announcement today that the registration for the elections will be postponed in four provinces, emphasises the inability of government to deal with issues pro actively and in time. This announcement should have been made at least a month ago when it was clear to any one who cared, that the IEC will not be in a position to conduct proper registration in November. This is symptomatic of the crisis management style of the ANC government.

Political parties who are represented in parliament are all jumping onto the bandwagon and screaming foul play Ė this should not fool the voters. Political parties, including all opposition parties, sat in parliament and did not use their positions to bring about any changes regarding the budget of the IEC or the election process. The use of ID books only became an issue to the National Party when research indicated that the Western Cape is effected greatly by the issuing of these documents. For the first time the DP is making a noise after Opinion 99 indicated that it is their voters who are most likely not to register. This opportunism from the political parties must end now. They have a responsibility equal to that of the ANC government and the IEC, to the voters to ensure that the elections are run smoothly. They were after all supporting the budget vote of Trevor Manuel.

The IEC can also no longer wash its hands in innocence. The IEC must stop misleading the voter public. It is the voter publicís money that the IEC is using and their right to free and fair elections that the IEC is tampering with. The IEC must communicate honestly to the voters the problems and obstacles they are experiencing. It is our right to know the truth and the IECís responsibility to communicate it. In the eyes of the voters the IEC is responsible for the incompetence that we are experiencing. The IEC itself, in the way it acts, blemishes its independence and ability. ;Of great concern is the announcement by the government that they, the ANC government, will evaluate the registration process and then they will decide whether a further registration process is needed. This should be one of the primary functions of the IEC and most definitely not of the ANC government. The mere arrogance of the entitlement of government of this function and the silence with which the IEC received this announcement is a direct threat to the independence of the IEC and free and fair elections.

The 1999 election never was and definitely is not a power game of a few individuals. As South Africans we should not be surprised that our economic figures decline if this is what we portray in terms of our ability to conduct democratic elections.

The failure of the ANC government to empower the IEC to conduct the registration process properly makes one to wonder about the arrogance of the ANC government in their self appointed role as the defender of democracy in neighbouring states. It elevates South Africaís role in the Lesotho debacle to the level of the absurd!

As a political party who do not receive state funding we have spend a lot of money and time in informing our supporters that they should register in order to be able to vote. The postponement of the registration process in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Western Cape and the Free State do not guarantee that the registration process in the other provinces will run smoothly. People still do not know where they should go and register. A special effort should now also be embarked on to communicate the changes in the four provinces affected. The UDM sincerely hopes that the marketing of this will not be as clandestine and secret as the current effort.

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