Politics in South Africa – Fraud or Incompetence?

UPDATE: Residents are so unhappy with the IEC that they have created this petition: Our Right To Vote Was Denied

This is my direct personal experience with the DA and the IEC. Read it and make your own mind up. Names and other details have been left out for privacy reasons, researchers please feel free to contact me for these details.

A couple of months ago I decided to give politics in SA a try. A rep from the DA gave me a call asking me to please register to vote and when I mentioned how useless SA politics is, he convinced me to help them make a difference.

As a volunteer I was assigned to help out on registration day. Now the DA and other parties are present on registration days to assist the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) as well as canvas, monitor proceedings for legal irregularities, and help with voter queries.

About an hour in, the system starts having trouble connecting and eventually goes offline. There weren’t many people in the queue to register, but those that took the trouble were not happy at all and many left in disgust when IEC agents were instructed to capture their details on paper for processing later.

I decided to have a look myself and ascertained that the agents could in fact use the system when it was offline. The only problem they faced was when they tried to update the address details. Now this is where I am going to get quite technical, but I am sure all readers can follow along still. In programming we can use a simple text box to input and store data, which is what the “Add Details” button did in the software program. So the system would scan the database for the current voter details, which could be done offline too (presumably each device held a local copy of the database which then synced with the rest of the system when it was online. This is why the agents could still use the system when it was offline. But the problem was when agents tried to change the voter address – it would connect to the Google Maps API which did not work offline. There was no backup in place for example to input the details manually at least with a normal text box as in the Add Details section.

I tried my utmost to notify the developers about this, wasting a lot of time and money calling them while trying to still fulfill my duties at the station. Getting hold of the area manager for the IEC was a pain in itself as they were so unorganized, first it was one manager then another. I was given fake names by someone in the IEC IT department as the receptionist had no idea who these people were that I was trying to get hold of. Eventually I was tired of being given the runaround and I went to the IEC head office in Pretoria. I waited a long time in the lobby listening to what sounded like a massive party in the building. The result was that the IEC would not speak to me directly and my query had to go through certain channels. When I raised the issue with the people in the DA, I was told to contact someone and when I did I was ignored flatout. When I raised this new issue, the ward councilor or DA agent I was dealing with didn’t even blink an eye, merely gave me yet another DA agent who I could talk to.

I have come to the conclusion that most political parties and organizations in South Africa are either too incompetent to be of any use, or they are deliberately sabotaging the process. When problems crop up in the field, they do not have a proper procedure to fix it – they just turn it off till 4pm. They always have ample time to develop a system that works, it really isn’t much to create the software they are using, so there is really no reason for it to fail all the time other than, like I said, incompetence or sabotage.

We can do something about this though. Organizations like Dear South Africa and Action Society work to help us have a voice in government. When new laws want to be proposed, the govt has to get our permission first so they usually post an obscure notice in some gazette somewhere so no one is actually aware of what the government is doing. Dear SA helps the public overcome this issue. So instead of voting for parties, we vote on the laws.

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