Budget cuts have compelled the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to hold one voter registration weekend instead of two ahead of the municipal elections to be held between August and November.
This was revealed by chief electoral commissioner Sy Mamabolo when he briefed the co-operative governance and traditional affairs portfolio committee on Tuesday night.
We all know that because of Covid-19 departments have their budgets reduced. That is the case at the IEC too,” Mamabolo said. As a result the IEC, on this occasion, would be able to offer a single registration weekend instead of the normal two,” he said. A presentation to the committee showed that electoral body was requested to make budget cuts of R109 million in the current financial year.
In the next three years, the commission will cut R744m from its budget These cuts will impact every aspect of the Electoral Commission including people, processes and projects,” the presentation said.
Mamabolo said they cancelled the piloting of e-voting owing to lack of funding.
Limited funding will also severely curtail the ability of the commission to respond pro-actively to conflict prevention and resolution including the roll-out of conflict monitoring and mediation programmes in high risk areas,” he added. Mamabolo told MPs that they would provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for the registration and electoral staff.
He also said voters would be asked to bring along their own pens when casting ballots.
We will have pens, however, we are encouraging people to bring their pens so that there is no exchange of pens. Hopefully by so doing we will prevent possibilities of the transmission of the virus between the people.”
Mamabolo also said they would change the dispensers for the indelible ink in marker pens to indelible ink liquid to be applied from a bottle to the thumb of voters using cotton buds.
The chief electoral officer told MPs that voter management devices have been procured and contracts would be signed on Wednesday for their delivery.
“These devices are replacing Zipzap machines. The new imperative around addresses requires a new type of device,” he said.
“We specified a device that will integrate business processes, register, capture address and register in the right segment of the voters roll.”
Mamabolo said the recruitment and selection criteria of electoral staff have been agreed with the national party liaison committee. Our recruitment phase is commencing for the registration weekend. We will get into the training phase,” he said.
“We are looking at 58 000 staff for the registration weekend and 275 000 for actual elections,” Mamabolo added. Candidates will be vying for 10 479 councillor positions in municipalities. The IEC are aiming to reach the elusive 60% voter turnout this year.
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