EDITORIAL | Need to safeguard our electoral system


Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of democracy in countries around the world and SA is not alone in wanting to give its citizens precisely that.
However, scarcely had polling stations opened on Wednesday than the complaints started. Social media has been awash with claims that some voted more than once, others showed photographs of the “indelible” ink easily scrubbed off nails.
There were also allegations that ballot boxes were manipulated, were unaccompanied by a police escort or had ballots placed in them after party agents had left.
All these raised valid questions about potentially poor controls with the IEC’s electoral machinery.
So far, the IEC has confirmed a number of arrests of those linked to the double voting scandal in KwaZuluNatal.
The electoral body is also probing several complaints and objections laid by various political parties related to systemic and capacity shortfalls at various polling stations throughout the country.
Much of this is synonymous with the usual electoral discourse at this time.
And indeed, where the IEC is shown up for being slack, we as the public must demand that it strengthens its systems.
Where officials have been rogue, we must demand accountability and criminal prosecutions. However, equally so, we must be vigilant.
In the public discourse, we must be able to discern between those who raise concerns about legitimate inefficiencies in the electoral system and those who are deliberately steering the national conversation toward questioning the very legitimacy of the outcome, even though there may be no material cause to do so.
Where the IEC has failed, it must be held accountable. However, we must guard against efforts that may seek to deliberately undermine an electoral system when there is no conclusive evidence existing that such as system is broadly and materially compromised.

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