IEC has a leak or a breach as candidate lists circulate on social media

  • At the weekend, candidate lists for both the ANC and MK party were circulated online.
  • Those lists were reportedly obtained from IEC’s internal systems without authorisation.
  • The incident has been reported to the Information Regulator in compliance with POPIA.

There was a lot of action related to the upcoming national and provincial elections. This was to be expected give that registration for parties and independent candidates closed on Friday, 8th March.

However, no sooner had the deadline passed than candidate lists began circulating on social media. Those lists highlighted candidates for both the ANC and former President Jacob Zuma’s newly established MK Party. However, according to the Independent Electoral Commission, it appears as if those lists weren’t meant to see the light of day just yet.

“The Commission has become aware of lists of candidates related to two political parties, the ANC and MK Party that have been circulated or disclosed in a manner not authorised,” the IEC said on Saturday.

“Indications are that the data emanated from internal system generated reports within the Commission. To this end, the Commission has directed an enquiry to establish the circumstance and identity of the source of the unauthorised disclosure. To the extent that the disclosed documents also contain personal information of data subjects, the Commission has reported the incident to the Information Regulator in compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act,” the Commission added.

This is incredibly concerning news. Even if the candidate lists are accurate, the fact that somebody within the IEC has shared this information without authorisation brings into question the protections in place at the Commission. Perhaps more concerning is the fact that the IEC isn’t fully aware of where these candidate lists came from. We sincerely hope that these lists came from an overeager employee at the IEC and not through a breach of the entity’s systems.

The ANC published a statement regarding the leak of its candidate lists.

“We have noted with concern that ANC candidate lists that appear to emanate from the IEC online candidation nomination system are now circulating on social media. We have conveyed our concerns to the IEC about this unauthorised release of personal information in potential contravention of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA),” the ANC said.

Elections 101

Putting the leak of candidate lists aside for a moment, the IEC reports that by the time it hit the cut-off time for registrations on Friday, as many as 101 unrepresented parties (these are parties without seats in the National Assembly or the Provincial Legislature) had submitted registrations. In total, as many as 115 parties will be contesting the National Elections in May.

As relates to provincial elections, 93 unrepresented parties, 11 independent candidates and 14 parties will contest those elections.

This of course hinges on the parties registrations being verified by the IEC. The final lists of candidates will be published on 26th and 27th March.

Once all the T’s are crossed and I’s dotted, ballots will be printed starting on 10th April in preparation for the elections at the end of May.

We hope that the Information Regulator investigates the leak of candidate lists ahead of time swiftly to ensure that the integrity of its office, an ultimately the elections, are safeguarded.


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