South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission initially hired Howard Sackstein in February 1994 to investigate breaches of the electoral code of conduct in Mpumalanga. Within a few weeks of joining the organization, he was promoted to coordinate the Gauteng office of the commission’s Investigations Unit, where he oversaw 36 lawyers. After the 1994 elections, Sackstein was one of two people retained to shut down the operations of the temporary Independent Electoral Commission, before the creation of the permanent Independent Electoral Commission. He played a key role in the 1999 elections. In early 2010 he was running his own technology firm, Saicom Voice Services.
Coordinator, Investigations Unit: Gauteng Office, 1994 Elections
Independent Electoral Commission, South Africa
Country of Reform:
Salcom Voice Services
Date of Interview:
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Howard Sackstein discusses the work of the Independent Electoral Commission’s Investigations Unit in 1994. He outlines some of the challenges that the electoral commission faced that year, including a very limited timeframe, the logistical challenges of running elections in a largely rural country and the high levels of distrust and suspicion that permeated South Africa’s transition to democracy. He also charts the many innovative aspects of the election, such as an electoral code of conduct that included serious sanctions, an effective voter education campaign, the use of professional mediators to settle local disputes and the establishment of party liaison committees. He outlines some of the ingenious responses that individual poll workers displayed in the face of serious challenges. He discusses the lessons the commission learned from 1994 and how commission staff drew from these lessons while preparing for the 1999 elections.
Howard Sackstein Interview
Nationality of Interviewee:
codes of conduct
Election Management Body