Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi casts his vote in Ulundi during the 2016 Local Government Elections on August 3 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Photo: Gallo Images / The Times / Thuli Dlamini
The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) is working on truncated timelines to ensure that the local government elections go ahead following its failed Constitutional Court application to have the elections postponed to February next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some political parties, including the DA, felt that the IEC’s court bid favoured the ANC, which failed to register some of its candidates before the cut-off time.
According to the Constitutional Court ruling, the elections must take place between October 27 and November 1 this year.
IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said on Monday that the commission had sought legal opinion on how best to comply with the Constitutional Court’s ruling.
“Although the orders were handed down without a reasoned judgment at this stage, it is important that the commission proceeds with deliberate speed to comply with the decision of the Constitutional Court in the fulfilment of its mandate, notwithstanding current circumstances,” Mashinini said.
The candidate nomination process will now be reopened, he said, which gives the ANC some room to sort itself out. Rival parties were hoping to capitalise on the governing party’s failure to register candidates in many wards.
“A number of amendments to the timetable are necessary. We will set a new deadline for candidate nominations. Persons can only be nominated once registered on the voters’ roll, so political parties must nominate candidates after the registration weekend has occurred [on September 18 and 19] and after the voters’ roll has closed.”
“A meeting of the national party liaison committee was held earlier today [Monday]. It is clear and there are different interpretations among parties as to whether the order of the Constitutional Court permits the commission to reopen nominations. The commission has taken advice on the matter and is of the view that amending the timetable to reopen nominations is reasonably necessary in the circumstances. We will open the system and all political parties will have a chance to nominate their candidates,” Mashinini said.
He added that the IEC had held consultative meetings with Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and informed her that it would proceed with the registration weekend.
Dlamini-Zuma is expected to proclaim the election date on September 20.
He said the IEC had entered into discussions with National Treasury regarding the procurement of personal protective equipment and also acquired 40 000 voter management devices to verify voters instantaneously and facilitate the correct registration of voters in relation to wards.
IEC chief executive Sy Mamabolo said that funding for an additional date for special voting had been requested:
We will endeavor to manage an election as close as possible to the constitutional standard within the current Covid-19 constraints.
He said the IEC was ready to deliver the election despite the time constraints and that staff had been trained, with software uploading and other logistics already concluded.
“We need to activate the trained staff and confirm their availability of the registration weekend and consult landlords about the availability of venues,” he said.
Mamabolo said the reopening of the nomination process affected all political parties, not only the ANC.
“The ANC requested that the system be reopened and the IEC declined because we could not open the system on an ad hoc basis, but now it is a completely different matter,” he said.
Currently, 77 970 candidates have registered, 911 of them independently.