‘IEC lost its independence before 1999 national elections’

IEC officials seal ballot box
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South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (SAPOHR) President, Golden Miles Bhudu, says the Electoral Commission (IEC) lost its independence before the 1999 national elections.

In that year, the commission ordered that all prisoners be excluded from voting.

The decision was later successfully challenged in court.

Thousands of inmates and millions of ordinary South Africans are gearing up to vote in next month’s elections.

Bhudu says more should be done to protect the rights of inmates.

“The independence and the impartiality of the IEC and its integrity was lost on our way towards the second democratic elections in this country,” he adds.

“The IEC was compromised and corrupted … and followed a certain route, siding with the ANC (African National Congress), and that is why the ANC has won the elections in flying colours ever since.”

Bhudu also says inmates should be accorded voter education and political parties and independent candidates allowed to campaign at correctional facilities.

“We went then to court and the IEC, the Department of Correctional Service, the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Finance, including the President’s office appointed the best lawyers to oppose our application,” explains Bhudu.

“Because we want to do it via the courts and we’ve always lost our cases against these gurus. They were fighting against fair, open and democratic elections for sentenced and un-sentenced prisoners. Even up until today, I’m telling you, the majority of prisoners are not registered to vote because they didn’t have their IDs,” explains Bhudu.

Meanwhile last week, the IEC held a media briefing regarding the most recent updates concerning the election schedule, including the commencement of ballot procedures and the ongoing availability of overseas voting notices.

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