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'IEC won't get into public spat with any political party'

Sy Mamabolo’s comments follow accusations by Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema of vote rigging.

Party representatives of South Africa's thirteen political parties represented in parliament gather to take a selfie after they signed their pledges to abide by the IEC's code of conduct during the 2016 local government elections. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) does not want to get into a public spat with any political party.

Mamabolo's comments follow accusations by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema of vote rigging.

The red berets have claimed votes cast for the party were "stolen" in Alexandra in Gauteng during the 2014 general elections.

Mamabolo said the commission wants to clear the air with the party leader.

"The IEC is always concerned if there's significant section of society which holds the view that it may not be discharging its responsibility according to the statutory prescripts. It is in that context that the commission is seeking that audience."

During the party's election manifesto launch in April, Malema warned the IEC to be independent, and said the commission should not behave like a political foe.

The Cooperative Governance Department has since warned Malema against making accusations that have the potential to damage the IEC's reputation.

Mamabolo added, "It is important that we have a common understanding of processes, and we minimise mutual allegations and so on."

Mamabolo said the commission is consulting with the EFF's leadership, and a date for the meeting will be set soon.

"As the commission, we want to understand the issues that they think imperil the possibility for free and fair elections."

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution has also urged the party to retract its "dangerous condemnation" of the commission, a Chapter 9 institution.