The cost of South Africa's 1999 National Elections : too high a price for democracy?

Wessels, Ricardo Peter (2000-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis addresses the financial cost implications incurred during elections, with special focus on South Africa. The discussion is conducted by way of comparing South Africa to countries like India, Australia, Israel and Mexico. Democracy entails more than merely conducting periodic elections that are free and fair, but it cannot be less. To a large extent free and fair elections are indicative of the governing authority's commitment to democracy. This commitment however, does have financial implications. A question that is very rarely addressed relates to the financial cost implications that accompany this commitment. For a country such as South Africa with a range of other pressing socio-economic issues, the cost factor with regard to the voting process is of vital importance. The South African electoral experience, in comparison to that of other developing countries, is presently a very costly undertaking at a conservative average cost of more than US $13.00 per vote. Depending on how the expenses are calculated, this figure takes on hefty proportions. To an extent the tardiness on the part of the South African Government in appointing the Electoral Commission to conduct the 1999 elections and the subsequent conflicts regarding the budgetary allocations to the Electoral Commission (EC) combined with poor electoral planning, resulted in the EC having to resort to very expensive technology in order to ensure that a free and fair election would be conducted on the date set by the President. Apart from addressing the above mentioned issues, relating to the cost expenditure during elections, the assignment also addresses possible ways to reduce these costs incurred.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis fokus op die finansiële uitgawes wat tydens verkiesings aangegaan word, met spesifieke verwysing na Suid-Afrika. Die bespreking geskied aan die hand van 'n vergelyking met lande soos Indië, Australië, Israel en Mexico. Demokrasie behels baie meer as net die hou van periodieke vrye en regverdige verkiesings, maar dit kan ook nie enigiets minder as dit behels nie. Vrye en regverdige verkiesings is tot 'n groot mate 'n bewys van 'n bepaalde regime se verbintenis tot die demokrasie. Hierdie verbintenis het egter finansiële implikasies vir 'n land. Die finansiële koste verbonde aan hierdie "verbintenis" is egter selde 'n punt van akademiese bespreking. Met die aantal sosio-ekonomiese vraagstukke waarmee die Suid-Afrikaanse regering op die oomblik gekonfronteeer word, is dit van kardinale belang dat dringende aandag geskenk word aan pogings om die koste-faktor van die verkiesingsproses so laag as moontlik te hou. In vergelyking met die gemiddelde koste wat verbonde is aan verkiesings in ander ontwikkelende lande, was die 1999 Suid-Afrikaanse verkiesing (teen sowat US $13,00 per kieser) 'n duur onderneming en afhangende van hoe die kostes bereken word, ontaard hierdie bedrag in 'n aardige een. Tot 'n groot mate was swak verkiesingsbeplanning die oorsaak dat daar tot duur tegnologie gewend moes om te verseker dat die verkiesing vry en regverdig verloop, soos op die datum wat deur die President bepaal is. Die laat aanwysing van die 1999 Verkiesingskommissie en die daaropvolgende konflik oor die verkiesingsbegroting, het ook bygedra tot die feit dat duur tegnologie ingespan moes word. Afgesien van bogenoemde aspekte, bespreek die tesis ook moontlike maniere om toekomstige verkiesings in Suid-Afrika teen 'n laer koste te hou.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/51953
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