The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) suffered several technical glitches on Saturday, with both their Voter Management Devices (VMD) and voter registration website failing to play along on the last voter registration weekend before the elections.
The VMD system was apparently unable to capture information due to an error in the system’s mapping functionality, leading the IEC to temporarily use the VMDs offline, while the glitches were fixed.
Similarly, the IEC’s website was also affected, and voters could not register online.
By noon on Saturday the issues had been resolved, and access to both website and VMDs had been restored, allowing voters to continue registration.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), however, criticised the glitches as being ‘unacceptable and a threat to our democracy, especially when the IEC has been pronouncing its readiness to conduct voter registration and elections.””
In a statement released on Saturday afternoon, the party accused the IEC of misleading the public and parliament, and went as far as accusing the commission of voter suppression.
“The EFF views this act as a voter suppression project, to deliberately ensure that the people of this country continue to be excluded in participating meaningfully in this democracy,” they wrote.
“Moreover, this is an act of sabotage and ambush attempt on the EFF voter registration drive of our people, particularly the youth.”
The party did not explain how exactly a system error which affected all users and registration centres national were an ambush of their registration drive specifically.
They did, however, continue to accuse the IEC of “not being independent, and led by partisan individuals who cannot be trusted but are rather concerned with descending into the political arena.”
They said the upcoming elections must be closely monitored, and indicated their intention to write to parliament to call the IEC to account.
The EFF also recently joined the DA in their Constitutional Court application to prevent the IEC from reopening the registration process for candidates. This after the ANC had failed to meet the deadline for candidate registration in over 90 wards, meaning they will automatically be unable to contest elections in said wards.
The EFF said that its decision was based on the principle of equal and consistent application of the law across all political parties.
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Explaining the decision at the time, IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said that it was “necessary to allow political parties and independent candidates an opportunity to nominate candidates after the registration weekend of September 18-19, 2021 has occurred, and after the voters’ roll has closed”.