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By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


Unauthorised disclosure: IEC investigates employee over leaked ANC candidates’ list

ANC's list of candidates circulated on social media on Friday.


With the ANC expected to formally release its already leaked candidates list today, it is anticipated that some heads might roll.

The party submitted its national and provincial candidates list for the upcoming general elections via an online portal to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) on Friday, in time to beat the strict 5pm deadline.

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By Friday, the list had hit social media – with party members’ identity numbers.

The IEC confirmed an investigation was underway into the circumstances surrounding the unauthorised release of the ANC and uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party candidates list for the 29 May general election.

IEC deputy chief electoral officer for electoral matters Masego Shiburi said the leak of the ANC candidates list stemmed from one of its employees.

“The party has been in touch … they are [concerned] with the circulation of their list prematurely, including the proliferation of personal information of candidates who appear on that list,” he said on Newzroom Afrika.

ALSO READ: ANC submits candidates list – only those without criminal charges included

“The commission conveyed its regret to the party because it would seem the unauthorised distribution of that list emanated internally from the IEC.

“It is a person who released that list in an unauthorised manner because the period to release those lists has not yet come in terms of the timetable.

“We have also reported the unauthorised distribution of the party’s list to the Information Regulator as we are ordered to do in law.”

‘Matter of grave concern’

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said the party viewed the unauthorised public disclosure of its candidates list as a “matter of grave concern”.

Mbalula said the leak not only breached the Protection of Personal Information Act, but also posed a reputational risk for the IEC.

“It unfairly advantages opposition parties who will have two weeks to inspect and prepare objections against ANC candidates, while the ANC will have only two days to do so in relation to the candidates of other parties,” he said.

“We wish to reiterate our full confidence in the IEC’s proven track record of administering and overseeing free, fair and credible elections over the past three decades.” ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said the party had planned to release the list today, when a more detailed analysis of it would be discussed.

Bhengu-Motsiri said the criteria for candidates to qualify for nomination comprised a comprehensive set of requirements, ensuring their suitability and commitment to the ANC’s values and goals.

“The ANC’s election committee has followed a thorough interview and vetting process for all the candidates to ensure that the list reflects the deployment of individuals characterised by the right skill set, integrity, experience and capabilities to serve the demands at provincial and national government,” she said.

The ANC’s integrity commission had issued a report which recommended that more than 90 members be excluded from the party’s candidates list. But its decisions had been ignored in the past, a state of affairs many saw as rendering it ineffective.

ALSO READ: Nathi Nhleko leaves ANC, slams Mbalula’s ‘bankrupt thinking’

Step-aside rule

According to sources in the party, it was understood it would be prejudicial to exclude members from the list if they had not been charged by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) because that would be contrary to the ANC’s current step-aside guidelines.

The step-aside guidelines stipulate that members charged with corruption or other serious crimes in a court of law should not be allowed to be participate in the party and government activities.

The sources said none of the fingered members had been criminally charged.

To qualify for nomination as an ANC candidate, members must have no criminal record or be facing criminal charges brought by the NPA. This excludes politically related crimes committed before April 1994.

This further suggested the Zondo commission report into state capture would not be used as a basis to remove the implicated members from the party’s candidates list if they had not yet been charged by the NPA.

The ANC’s integrity commission had also raised concerns about the same people.

It suggested former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, former health minister Zweli Mkhize; Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa; Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation deputy minister David Mahlobo and ANC parliamentarian and former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo among other influential party members be dropped from the list.

Former minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba, now an NEC member, was also implicated in state capture but had not yet appeared before the integrity commission.