SA elections costing less to run

2011-05-06 13:03

Johannesburg - The cost of elections per vote in South Africa has dropped dramatically since 1994, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) deputy chief electoral officer Norman du Plessis said on Friday.

The budget for South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994 was R963m, he said.

It was costing the IEC R1.2bn to host the local government elections on May 18.

Considering inflation increases over the past 17 years, the figure of R1.2bn - the IEC's budget for this financial year - was relatively low compared to 1994, said Du Plessis.

"The cost of elections per vote has dramatically reduced," he told a business breakfast.

Du Plessis told Sapa that the major cost drivers in the 1994 election were paying electoral officials wages on the day, as opposed to them being only volunteers, and the hiring of consultants.

"We hired masses of consultants, but today we are more experienced," he said, adding that the IEC now mainly relied on its own staff's skills and knowledge.

Also, volunteer workers were now only being paid a daily allowance for food and transport, instead of getting wages.

Du Plessis said other factors included the decrease in technology costs, with computers costing much less now, and also, a decrease in the cost of administrative goods, such as ballot boxes and seals, due to more competition in the market.

He said on average over a five-year cycle, the IEC's budget was between R4bn and R5bn. This included national and local elections and two registration weekends for each election.