The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has revealed that five officials have been dismissed as a result of irregular expenditure incurred by the commission.
The IEC was presenting its annual report and financial statements for the financial year 2019/2020 to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on Tuesday.
The commission had overlooked the 2019 national and provincial elections, which saw the ANC remaining as the ruling party nationally, while the DA and the EFF in second and third respectively.
During the Zoom meeting on Tuesday, IEC chair Glen Mashinini told the committee they had record number of voter registration of 26.7 million on its roll in 2019.
“We also enjoyed the lowest percentage of spoiled ballots since 1998 were we recorded 1.27% as opposed to 1.29% in 2014,” he said.
Mashinini revealed that the commission also had a record number of 78 political parties that were contested in the elections.
Regarding the IEC’s audit outcome, the committee was told that the commission received an unqualified opinion on it annual financial statements.
According to IEC CFO Dawn Mbatha, the basis of the unqualified opinion was due to the review of the financial statements not being adequate.
“What stood between the Electoral Commission in getting a clean audit opinion in the current and its mainly because of this paragraph which resulted in a material adjustment to the financial statements,” Mbatha said.
She further indicated that the IEC had a revenue of R2.136 billion, while its expenditure operating expenses stood at R2 billion, which increased by 28% year-on-year.
“In the 19/20 financial year, we have spent close to what we actually received and that’s also informed by [the IEC] being in election years,” she added.
Irregular and wasteful expenditure
Mbatha then revealed that the IEC had incurred over R20 million in irregular expenditure, a 513% decrease from the previous financial year, where the commission incurred over R130 million.
“We can also confirmed that there has been five dismissals relating to irregular expenditure that has been incurred. It has also been found in the reporting period that there was no material findings by the office of the AGSA [auditor-general of South Africa].
“They only identified 2% of what is reported of the R21 million [irregular expenditure].”
She further told the committee that 98% of R1.3 million of fruitless and wasteful expenditure related to petrol card fraud, which has been reported to the authorities.
2021 elections budget
Last month, the IEC revealed that R1.9 billion has been budgeted to cover the cost of the 2021 local government elections.
The commission said it was confident it can deliver free and fair polls, with 31% being invested in new generation voting management devices.
Mamabolo had conceded South Africa’s fiscal climate and a battered economy had led to drastic cuts in commission operations – amounting to R663 million.
The 2021/2022 budget will see 27% spent on electoral operations, staff expansion and events.
Meanwhile, 10% of the budget would be spent to registration, voting material, warehousing and distribution costs, while 4% was allocated to communication and media.
Additional information by Brian Sokutu. This article has been updated having previously stated that fruitless and wasteful expenditure amount was R1,3 billion.