My Vote Counts (MVC) congratulates Ms. Janet Love on her reappointment as Commissioner of the Electoral Commission. (IEC). Ms. Love’s reappointment comes at a crucial time for the Commission, as it prepares to implement changes to the Electoral Act and manage the 2024 election process amidst political uncertainty.
President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Ms. Love 5 months after her first term came to an end in April 2023. She becomes one of five commissioners – a number determined by the Electoral Commission Act no. 51 of 1996. The commissioners are responsible for overseeing and managing the Electoral Commission and reporting to the Minister of Home Affairs. The IEC is responsible for planning, organising, and overseeing elections, maintaining the voters’ roll, promoting voter education, and upholding electoral laws to ensure free and fair democratic processes in the country. It is now also responsible for implementing fundamental changes to the Electoral Act before the 2024 general elections and administering the highly contested Political Party Funding Act.
Regrettably, the process that led to the appointment of Ms Love seemed to attract little public interest or scrutiny. The Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) called for nominations in February 2023, with a deadline of 10 March, which was extended to 24 April due to a limited number of suitable candidates. On 31 March, twelve candidates were shortlisted by a Panel consisting of the Chief Justice, Acting Public Protector, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission, and Chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality. The shortlisted candidate’s initials and surnames, most of whom had no public profile, were made public on 10 May. Based on this information, the public had until 26 May to comment on the suitability of the shortlisted candidates. The Panel interviewed the candidates in Johannesburg on 27 June and submitted eight shortlisted candidates to the National Assembly, which referred the matter to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs. The Committee recommended Ms Love, and the National Assembly approved the nomination on 19 September.
Despite this robust process, the interviews were not widely and critically engaged with in the public domain.
The Commission is one of the most important institutions upholding our democracy. We therefore reinforce the cruciality that it remains independent. The processes associated with the appointment of its decision-makers must be transparent and open to public scrutiny, especially as we move towards the 2024 election. Considering this, MVC will continue to critically engage with the processes associated with the IEC as well as the Commission’s mandate and capacity. We call on civil society, the media, and the broader public to engage more earnestly with these processes.