The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is expected to brief the media on Monday afternoon after the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) on Friday dismissed its application to postpone this year’s municipal elections to February 2022.
The IEC was locked in meetings over the weekend to discuss the implications of the ConCourt’s ruling, which means that the commission is now required to ensure that it prepares for an election to be held before 1 November and announce an election programme leading up to the polls.
The briefing is expected to start at 3pm.
The local government elections were proclaimed to take place on 27 October, but the IEC approached the ConCourt to defer the elections after it adopted the report of former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke’s inquiry into the feasibility of holding the municipal elections.
Moseneke and his panel found that due to the Covid pandemic and restrictions on public gatherings, among other factors, the elections would not be free and fair.
Will IEC give ANC a second chance?
In its order on Friday, the ConCourt directed the IEC 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.
But this has raised questions about the reopening of the candidate registration process after some parties, especially the ANC, missed the IEC’s deadline to register its candidates in several municipalities. The ConCourt judgment was silent on this matter.
The CourtCourt said in its judgment: “If the commission determines that it is not practically possible to hold a voter registration weekend, the Minister [of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs] 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.”
Implications for ANC
While the ConCourt’s ruling has been welcomed by most parties, the ConCourt’s decision places the ANC in a rather precarious position.
The party had pinned its hopes on the court’s judgment for a postponement of the elections, to allow them extra time to submit their candidate lists for more than 90 municipalities after missing the initial deadline.
The ANC withdrew their application to the Electoral Court to force the IEC to reopen the nominations submission period, hoping the ConCourt would rule in favour of the IEC. But party spokesperson Pule Mabe has denied this.
The ANC’s highest decision-making structure between conferences, the national executive committee, met at the weekend to discuss the ConCourt’s judgment and other matters.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe