Millions less for OVK in election year

Henry

The government saw fit to cut the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) budget by millions of rand. And this in an election year.

The parliamentary portfolio committee on internal affairs heard on Tuesday, exactly 92 days before the national and provincial elections, that the IEC’s budget this year amounts to R2.3 billion after being cut by a total of R281 million.

The figures further show that the IEC’s election operations program is currently underfunded by R163.5 million.

To make matters worse, the local government elections in 2026 are also currently underfunded.

Yet more money – an additional R200 million to be precise – was made available to political parties. This is subject to parliament’s approval of the draft appropriations bill.

The treasury will pay the money to the IEC who will then pay it to political parties.

The ANC is expected to receive the most due to its representation in the National Assembly.

The IEC now plans to use some of its savings to finance all expected deficits for this year’s national and provincial elections and deliver a proper election. However, the commission still needs to obtain the treasury’s approval for this.

The committee also heard that the IEC’s budget was cut by R607,2 million in 2025‑26 and 2026‑27, meaning that the 2026 local government elections were not fully funded.

The IEC hopes to make use of savings to cover the deficit.

New law = more costs

Not only does the IEC have less money to spend on the election this year, but the approved amendments to the Electoral Act will also cost it more money.

RNews previously reported that the controversial Electoral Act amendment bill was ratified about ten months ago with the result that South Africans can draw their crosses behind independent candidates’ names on 29 May this year.

These amendments necessitate a third ballot which will have an effect on the commission’s budget for election materials.

The IEC pointed out on Tuesday that it will also have to modify its electronic systems in accordance with the amended law. The commission also needs more staff to count the votes.

There is also a high probability that there will be more litigation, which will cost the commission money.