By Raahil Sain
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will have it’s budget cut by almost R800 million ahead of the 2024 national elections.
Speaking on Radio Islam International on Monday, My Vote Counts, Minhaj Jeenah said the cut in funds was based on a three-year budget plan by the National Treasury.
Jeenah said a cut in the IEC’s budget was a concern because it needed money to sustain itself and was fundamental to a democracy.
He said the IEC had gone on record to say that based on its current budget, it was unsure if it could hold a free and fair election in 2024.
“That’s a crisis. The IEC needs to spend on its voter education drive, one of the main mandates of the IEC is to get people to be interested in voting, and its other mandate is running an election,” Jeenah said.
In April last year, the IEC’s mandate expanded to overseeing the Political Party Funding Act.
The Political Party Funding Act introduces a strict regulatory framework for the private funding of political parties.
This includes setting limits on the source, size, and use of donated funds by political parties.
Parties must disclose all donations received above R100 000, whether in cash, kind (e.g., transport, catering) or both, to the Electoral Commission each quarter.
“The IEC is to ensure that those disclosures happen, and it publishes quarterly reports. It can investigate parties that don’t do what the act says,” said Jeenah.
He said there was a fear that the IEC would be hollowed out like other state institutions.
“We are seeing unstable coalitions. We are seeing the ANC consume itself because of factionalism; if the ANC loses the majority in 2024, we will see deeper factionalism.”
“We will see in probability a national coalition government with further instability and therefore attempts to hollow out the IEC,” he said.
Jeenah said there was a severe trust deficit in state institutions, and trust in the IEC was at 36%.
“The IEC also needs to build trust, which costs money.”
“Lack of trust linked to a general erosion in democratic institutions. That’s simply because democratic institutions are failing and failing most people,” Jeenah said.
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