Complaints over VMD glitches could land IEC in court, say some experts

Following a few technical problems with the voter management devices relating to the polling process, the IEC could face litigation from some political parties.

The new Voter Management Device that will be used to improve data capturing of voters for elections in South Africa. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - Amid complaints over the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)'s new voter management devices, some experts believe that the issues could open up the door for political parties to take the IEC to court.

The electoral commission has strongly defended the devices, saying that they made the voting process more efficient, especially with tracking voters' registration details.

But some people have been left frustrated after not being able to cast their ballots, mostly due to their names not appearing on the voters' roll.

Lawyer at the Council for the Advancement of the Constitution, Dan Mafora, said that without proof, political parties could not take the IEC to court simply on the grounds that there were glitches with its new technology.

He however explained that political parties could challenge the outcome of the elections in some wards and municipalities.

"On the basis that it wasn't free and fair because there were discrepancies and mistakes or irregularities, results can be challenged," said Mafora.

But politics expert at the University of Johannesburg, Professor Siphamandla Zondi, believed that while politicians could go the legal route, it would be a difficult case to prove.

"We'd have to be sure that it is a water-tight case and that the numbers are significant enough for them to check them up, "Zondi said.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) confirmed on Tuesday that it had filed an official complaint with the IEC over faulty voter management devices.

At the same time, the Change party, which also contested the municipal elections, claimed that the commission tampered with ballot papers in the City of Joburg and put the wrong name alongside its logo.

The IEC's commissioner Mosotho Moepya has since acknowledged the error.

“The commission offers its sincere apologies to the leadership, supporters and voters of Change party for this error on the ballot,” Moepya said.