The Constitutional Court has dismissed the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC’s) application to postpone the local government elections scheduled for October.
This after the IEC in July adopted the final report of former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke’s inquiry into the feasibility of holding this year’s local government elections.
The commission had approached the courts to seek judicial authorisation to conduct the polls outside of the constitutionally prescribed time periods.
“The commission accepts the rationale and the central thesis of the report that greater immunity through mass vaccination is a desirable precondition for a safe, free and fair election to be realised,” said the chairperson of the IEC, Glen Mashinini, at the time.
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In its order on Friday, the ConCourt said elections are to go ahead in October, and should be held no later than 1 November 2021.
It also directed the commission to, within three days, determine whether it is practically possible to hold a voter registration weekend with a view to registering new voters and changing registered voters’ particulars on the national voters’ roll in time for local government elections to be held any day in the period from 27 October to 1 November 2021.
“If the Commission determines that it is not practically possible to hold a voter registration weekend, the Minister must, not earlier than 10 September 2021, issue a proclamation in terms of section 24(2) of the Structures Act, determining a date for the local government elections in the period from 27 October to 1 November 2021,” it said.
Read the full order below:
What now for the ANC?
The Concourt’s decision places the governing party in a rather precarious position.
The party earlier this week pinned its hopes on the court’s judgment for a postponement of the polls, to allow them extra time to submit their candidate lists for several municipalities after missing the initial deadline.
They withdrew their application to the electoral court to force the IEC to reopen the nominations submission period, hoping the apex court would rule in favour of the IEC.
Political analyst Dale McKinley earlier this week said the ANC’s withdrawal of its application was probably an admission by the governing party that it could not win the case at the electoral court.
“There is a real possibility that the elections could be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and all the arguments that have been made are somewhat convincing.
“But I think if they’re basing their decision on that, then it’s a risky strategy because if it doesn’t come true, then they’ll get a bit of egg on their face, and obviously they’ve got candidates who weren’t able to be registered,” McKinley told The Citizen on Tuesday.
It now remains to be seen how the party proposes to remedy their failure to submit nominations for councillors in at least 90 municipalities, where this failure means they would automatically fail to get any seats in these councils.