Why the appointment of the new Chair of IEC is important for democracy

Prior to the first democratic elections the ANC leadership decided to establish the TRC and to ensure that it had credible members.

This was done because it was considered necessary for healing to have a process which enjoyed widespread support. It was considered necessary to support the right of the TRC to make its own findings even where the ANC believed these to be wrong. That it thought findings were wrong led Thabo Mbeki to bring an interdict to prevent findings that purported to treat violations of human rights by ANC cadres on a similar basis to those of the apartheid regime. Nelson Mandela, still then president nevertheless accepted the report in the spirit that guided the original establishment of the TRC.
Likewise, in establishing a constitutional court, the ANC leadership of the time recognised that there would be decisions it would not like. It nevertheless had the foresight to establish such a court in order to ground the new democracy. The article that follows by Steven Friedman indicates that the impartiality or independence of the IEC is coming into question and that it is vital that the chair is not appointed purely as an exercise of majority power but as a basis for ensuring confidence in the results. The problem we face now is that there is no depth of leadership, no vision and there is a focus on the short-term and this may well lead to making a choice similar to many others that have not only disgraced themselves but impugned the integrity of important institutions.


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