People casting their ballots during the elections in Cape Town on November 1. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
People casting their ballots during the elections in Cape Town on November 1. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

MPs raise concern about low voter turnout during local government elections

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published Nov 16, 2021

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Cape Town - MPs have raised concern about the low voter turnout during the November 1 elections. The ANC shot below the 50% mark and the battles for the key metros are continuing.

There were more than 66 hung municipalities across the country with some of the deals being struck and others still on the table.

Political parties are pushing to finalise the deals before the 14-day window period to constitute councils.

On Tuesday, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) appeared before the portfolio committee on home affairs to discuss its annual report.

Despite getting a clean audit, which committee members welcomed, concern was raised about the low voter turnout.

ANC MP Moleboheng Modise suggested that the commission did not do enough outreach to attract new voters and the youth “hence we don’t have a huge turnout of the youth registering to vote”.

“I don’t think adequate voter education was done,” she said.

During the briefing to the committee, IEC chief financial officer Dawn Mbatha noted that the irregular expenditure incurred in the current year amounted to R15.6 million, a reduction of 27.5% compared to the previous year.

“The total balance of the irregular expenditure was identified by the Electoral Commission’s internal compliance process.

“The non-compliance relates to an isolated incident involving one of the panels, as a result of allocation of work in contravention with the requirements of the contract and PFMA s38.

“The Auditor-General of South Africa identified 0% of irregular expenditure,” she said.

In relation to fruitless and wasteful expenditure, the IEC revealed that R169 000 was incurred in the current year. Mbatha said R114 000 was paid to the South African Revenue Service. Sars had issued the Electoral Commission a directive on lump sum payments due by former employees, while the R55 000 was incurred as a result of interest and penalties charged due to late payment of invoices.

The IEC’s presentation included efforts made in outreach programmes to strengthen electoral democracy. The commission said he target reached in the efforts stood at only 60%.

Targets were said not to be achieved due to Covid-19 restrictions, budget cuts by the National Treasury and the second registration weekend being cancelled.

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