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The Electoral Commission is established under Chapter Nine of the Constitution as one of the State institutions supporting constitutional democracy. The structure of the Commission is addressed in the Electoral Commission Act 51 of 1996. The Commission consists of five members (one of whom shall be a judge) appointed by the State President. The Commissioners are appointed from a list of not less than eight names submitted by a panel of experts.
This panel consists of the President of the Constitutional Court, and representatives from each of the following institutions; the Human Rights Commission; the Public Protector and the Commission on Gender Equality. The nominees by this panel of experts must be approved by a committee of the National Assembly, proportionally composed of all political parties represented in the Assembly and must further be approved by a resolution of the majority of the members of the Assembly.
Commissioners are appointed for a seven-year term. They can only be removed from office by the President on grounds of misconduct upon a finding to that effect by a committee of the National Assembly upon the recommendation of the Electoral Court. The removal must also be endorsed by a majority of the members of the Assembly.
The independence of the Commission is expressly guaranteed in both the Constitution and the Electoral Act. It is subject only to the Constitution and the law and no person or organ of state may interfere with the exercise of its functions. The Commission is accountable to the National Assembly and reports on its activities and the performance of its functions to the Assembly at least once a year. The decisions of the Commission on electoral matters are subject to review by the Electoral Court.
The administration of the Commission is managed by a Chief Electoral Officer, who is appointed by the Commission. The Chief Electoral Officer, in consultation with the Commission appoints other officers of the Commission. The Commission determines the conditions of service and remuneration of its officers. The powers and functions of the Commission are elaborately spelt out in Electoral Commission Act and include:
The expenditure in connection with exercise of the Commission’s powers and the performance of its duties and functions are defrayed out of money appropriated by Parliament and other sources. The Commission’s financial records are audited by the Auditor General.
In terms of Section 190 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (PDF - 1.65 MB), we must -
Section 5 of the Electoral Commission Act, 1996 (PDF - 183 KB) requires that we: