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By Chulumanco Mahamba

Digital Night Supervisor

‘Theatre of electoral transparency’: IEC launches national results operation centre in Midrand

The national results operations centre will serve as a central hub to access real-time election results.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has officially launched the national results operations centre (ROC) ahead of the 2024 national and provincial elections next week.

Located at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand for the first time, the ROC will serve as the primary management hub for electoral operations.

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It will also serve as a central hub for political parties, independent candidates, observers, the media and other stakeholders to access real-time election results.

IEC Commissioner Judge Dhaya Pillay said that since the announcement of the election date, the IEC has dealt with about 17 court cases, with 14 cases ruled in the IEC’s favour and three cases still outstanding.

“As we emerge from this experience of heightened litigation, we go forward reflecting on how two streams of decision-making – one through the courts and the other through the ballot – come together to make democracy work,” Pillay said.

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‘Theatre of electoral transparency’

The IEC chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo, said the ROC was a theatre of electoral transparency, dreams and political aspirations.

“Housed at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, this ROC will serve as the beating heart of our electoral processes,” he said.

“This ROC is the foundation on which transparency rests.”

Mamabolo said the results of each voting station, once audited, will be instantly available to political parties and the media through an application programming interface.

He added that an important milestone was reached on Friday when the first votes in the elections were cast at 110 diplomatic missions.

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Although the IEC doesn’t have a definitive account of voter turnout, preliminary indications show that voters living abroad have surpassed previous performance.

Elections about ‘celebrating common nationhood’

“The patience displayed also served to indicate their commitment to vote. This is the spirit we need to take into the elections next week. We need to be patient and create a joyous atmosphere at the voting stations, for elections are also about celebrating our common nationhood,” the chief electoral officer said.

On Monday, the commission will administer special votes for 1.6 million voters, and voter officials will visit 624 000 voters at their homes.

According to the IEC, the provinces with the most approved special votes for home visits and voting station visits are Gauteng at 335 000, KwaZulu-Natal at 320 000, Eastern Cape at 286 000, Limpopo at 159 000, Western Cape at 137 000, North West at 132 000, Mpumalanga at 126 000, Free State at 86 000 and Northern Cape at 83 000.

203 000 electoral officers have been appointed to administer the voting process, and 70 000 officials have been appointed as counting officers.

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In terms of the of the profile of the voting staff, 73% are female, 28% are youth under 25, and 84% are unemployed.

“These elections are not about us, and it is certainly not about our prejudices. An election is about the 27 million registered voters whose political choice we are called to facilitate and record,” Mamabolo said.

“In this regard, we dare not fail.”

Rich and profound history

IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya said the ROC had a very rich and profound history in the South African election landscape.

“The national ROC stands not only as a physical space but as an estimate of our unwavering commitment to the transparency and integrity of our electoral process,” he said.

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Moepya added that transparency lies at the heart of the IEC’s mission, and the capture and verification of the results exemplify their commitment to integrity.

“We refuse to compromise on the legitimacy of election outcomes. Our rapid response system stands ready to address any discrepancies swiftly and decisively,” the chairperson said.

“The acceptability of election results to all contestants is paramount, and we spare no effort in ensuring the integrity of the electoral process.”

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