The repeated statement by the IEC chairperson, Judge Kriegler that the IEC does not have enough funding to conduct the elections properly, is a matter of grave concern. In order to be independent and effective in ensuring free and fair elections the IEC needs to be properly funded. The UDM has stated before that by not providing the IEC with the necessary funding the vital independence role of the IEC comes under threat. Government needs to provide the IEC with the necessary funding to ensure that the IEC can without a shadow of a doubt conduct its tasks and with credibility be able to declare the 1999 elections free and fair.
The UDM however also believes that the IEC itself needs to ensure that this is possible. Scepticism exists over the spending of the IEC. What is it that the IEC up to date has spent its allocated budget on? Putting forward a budget is one thing, but what that money was actually spent on is another question. The UDM would be interested in the IEC making public an actual income and expenditure statement up to date. Somehow priorities seem not to have been addressed. Here one needs just to recall the lack of awareness programs during the first registration process to see to what extent priorities have been poorly dealt with.
The UDM knows that the non-availability of the election date is also an obstacle in proper planning for the elections. This is true not only for the IEC but also for the planning of campaigns, the preparation of civil society for the elections as well as the much needed voter education programmes. While the earlier proclamation of the date needs a constitutional change, nothing is stopping the President to announce the election date. The UDM would urge him in the interest of democracy as a whole to do that as a matter of urgency.
The IEC in handling and managing the elections must remember that it is serving the South African voter public and democracy before anything or anybody else. The IEC would therefore do well to communicate with South Africans the full picture regarding the obstacles it is facing in preparing for the elections. In the interest of democracy and in ensuring a free and fair election the IEC is obliged to do exactly that.
Ms Annelizé van Wyk
Deputy National Secretary
13 January 1999