A woman casts her vote at the IEC voting centre at the Nirvana Primary School in Lenasia. Picture: Chris Collingridge
A woman casts her vote at the IEC voting centre at the Nirvana Primary School in Lenasia. Picture: Chris Collingridge

No objections against names of 1577 presiding officers in Western Cape - IEC

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Oct 20, 2021

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THE Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has not received objections against the names of presiding officers and their deputies, who will be manning the 1 577 voting stations in the Western Cape.

There were 11 aspirant candidate councillors who applied to be employed as electoral staff.

This was revealed by the provincial electoral officer Michael Hendrickse when he was responding to a question during a media information session on Tuesday evening.

“I am only aware of one person who was referred to me. In that particular case it was during the voting registration weekend,” Hendrickse said.

He said the affected person was not wanted at an unnamed voting station for reasons that were provided.

Hendrickse said they resolved that matter by placing the affected person in a different voting station.

“It was not so much a problem overall with him but they did not want him to work at a particular voting station for reasons they provided and we moved him to another station,” he said.

The IEC in the Western Cape, which has 71 permanent staff members across the province, has additional 94 personnel on fixed terms contracts and 515 area managers.

There are a total of 18664 electoral personnel, including presiding officers and deputy presiding officers, who will be working at the voting stations on the election day.

However, the IEC often gets the flak during the elections for appointing people who are perceived to be aligned or office-bearers in some parties.

There is particular criticism for recruiting teachers aligned to the ANC-aligned South African Democratic Teachers Union, particularly as presiding officers, who are perceived to be ANC people.

Hendrickse explained that when they hire presiding officers and their deputies, they present the names to the municipal party liaison committee (MPLC), which is constituted by represented political parties and those organisations and independent candidates contesting the elections in a municipal area.

“Once the candidate process is concluded and we know who is contesting, all parties and independents are entitled to representation in the MPLC.

“These names are presented to the MPLC and if any political party and independent has substantive information, that the person we nominated as a presiding officer has a high political profile or is an office-bearer of a political party, they can let us know, and we will then no longer employ that person.”

Hendrickse also said as part of their recruitment process, they run the names of people that they were employing against the candidate nominations.

“We found 11 people, strange as it is, who were proposed as candidates and also who were applying for work with us.

“Obviously they were informed thereof that they would not be employed by the IEC, for obvious reasons,” he said.

Responding to a question about criticism of hiring already employed people as electoral staff, Hendrickse said the IEC advertises for persons to come work for them via the e-recruitment system.

He noted that there was always criticism in each election that they hire employed people, especially the teachers.

Hendrickse made an example about the 2019 elections when the electoral body hired about 200 000 electoral officials.

“Of the 200 000, 163 000 were unemployed.

“There were only 14 000 teachers,” he said, stressing that “we don’t just recruit teachers”.

Hendrickse also said there were a number of things they were looking for when they made recruitments.

“We make sure someone we use as presiding officer has the skills and experience of managing people…

“There are a number of things we look for when we are recruiting,” he added.

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Political Bureau

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