Will SA’s 2024 Election be Free and Fair? Far from guaranteed – OUTA’s Duvenage

In this compelling interview with OUTA founder and CEO Wayne Duvenage, he raises serious concerns about the fairness and transparency of 2024’s national and provincial elections in South Africa – and the ability of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to fulfil its role. OUTA has been scratching in some dark places in the national accounts where it uncovered a switch in funding away from the IEC towards political parties, which now receive well over R1.5bn a year from tax revenues. This interview highlights the importance of upholding democratic principles and ensuring transparency in the electoral process – something far from guaranteed in what is shaping up to be a watershed election for the young democracy.

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From the interview

This interview with Wayne Duvenage, founder and CEO of South African activist organisation Outa, focuses on the upcoming 2024 elections in South Africa and the concerns surrounding their fairness and transparency.

Outa, which was initially funded by the public during their fight against the implementation of toll roads in Gauteng, has broadened its mandate to tackle corruption, maladministration, and irrational government policies. They have taken on various projects and cases aimed at protecting taxpayers’ money from abuse and corruption.

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The interview focuses on SA’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) which is closely monitored by OUTA which analyses its financial reports and budgets. Duvenage is concerned about the reduction in the IEC’s budget while political parties have been receiving additional funding, questioning why taxpayers should be giving the parties over R1.5bn a year. He also highlights the lack of control over the allocation of funds from provincial budgets to political parties.

Duvenage emphasizes the importance of the IEC’s role in ensuring free and fair elections, especially as South Africa will see independent candidates standing nationally for the first time in 2024. He expresses concern about voter apathy and the need to educate and encourage the public to participate in democracy.

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Also raised is a concern that political parties can become profitable enterprises due to their allocation of funds from taxpayers raising the potential for entrepreneurial politicians to start political parties solely for financial gain. Duvenage criticises the lack of justification for the recent increase in funding for political parties, which was slipped into the budget without much scrutiny.

The interview concludes with a call for increased transparency in political party funding and more scrutiny from civil society organizations like OUTA. The concerns raised in the interview highlight the importance of upholding democratic principles and ensuring transparency and fairness in South Africa’s electoral process, contextualising concerns surrounding the 2024 elections.