Sadtu teachers insist on moonlighting as IEC staff
I always thought the appointment of members of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) to work for the Independent Electoral Commission would be the final nail in the coffin of the IEC’s credibility.
Even more shocking is the IEC’s defence of its right to employ the ANC’s alliance partners to manage and oversee various voting stations.
In the small town of KwaBhaca, it’s normal to see a teacher wearing a Sadtu T-shirt one day, an ANC T-shirt the next and an IEC T-shirt on voting day.
Since we vote overwhelmingly for the ANC, there has not been much opposition to this but we know it’s wrong.
The IEC says it does not employ members of political parties. But its scrutiny does not extend to labour union membership.
Sadtu is not just a union – as a member of the union federation Cosatu it, together with the South African Communist Party, is part of the ruling tripartite alliance of the ANC.
Some Sadtu members are also members of the ANC. Sadtu leaders end up as ANC MPs and even members of the cabinet. The IEC might as well be openly recruiting ANC members.
As a member of Cosatu, the teachers’ union has already pledged not only its support to the ANC but has committed to use its resources and membership to campaign for the ANC.
Through Cosatu, Sadtu sits in regular bilateral meetings with the ANC to plan and strategise how to win the elections.
At the voting station level, this means the ANC does not just have two party agents as required by law, but political alliance partners among the presiding officers in more than 23,000 voting stations.
At face value, this undermines the credibility of the process especially in the eyes of voters in specific voting districts who know the allegiance of the so-called IEC officials.
And in a country with over 500,000 unemployed college graduates, why are teachers being employed by the IEC?
The EFF has angered Sadtu by raising this issue but the IEC is resisting the targeting of Sadtu teachers.
Sadtu says the EFF “appears unable to distinguish between a trade union and a political party”.
“Neither Cosatu nor Sadtu are political parties. The law only prohibits persons who hold senior positions in political parties from being appointed as election officials,” Sadtu said in a statement.
The union said questioning the right of their members to work for the IEC borders on hate speech.
“Members of trade unions including Sadtu have a right in law to be appointed as election officers if they meet the requirements.
“The statements of the EFF directed at Sadtu members and by extension members of trade unions who participate as election officers border on hate speech, unfair discrimination and an incitement to harm such persons.”