The DA has filed papers at the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) and the Electoral Court challenging the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC’s) decision to reopen the candidate registration process ahead of the local government elections.
DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube on Wednesday confirmed to The Citizen that the party had filed papers late on Tuesday night.
She said the official opposition is challenging the IEC’s interpretation of the ConCourt’s judgment last week ordering the commission to hold the municipal elections between 27 October and 1 November. The apex court also ordered the IEC to explore reopening the voter registration process but said nothing on the submission of candidates being reopened.
“We believe that the IEC’s interpretation is flawed and that the ConCourt order is quite clear that the election timetable or calendar should only be amended as it is necessary, particularly as it pertains to factoring in a registration period. The ConCourt was clear that the timetable should largely remain the same,” Gwarube said.
During a media briefing on Monday, the IEC defended its decision to reopen the candidate registration process, saying this was not meant to benefit the ANC after it failed to submit its candidates by the 23 August deadline in 93 municipalities.
The DA, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) soon after indicated their intentions to challenge the decision in court.
‘IEC is bending a knee to the ANC’
Gwarube said the ConCourt underscored the importance of a voter registration period because there had been no prior weekend dedicated to voter registration in July due to a spike in Covid-19 cases.
She said the DA strongly objected to the reopening of the candidate registration because the IEC should follow its precedent of excluding parties that missed its set deadlines.
“To reopen the candidate submission process now suggests that the IEC is bending a knee to the ANC. We are hoping that the ConCourt would clarify what their order meant since there are different interpretations of it,” Gwarube said.
The National Freedom Party (NFP) was excluded from the 2016 municipal elections and the IFP was partially excluded from certain wards in the 2011 election for missing the submission deadlines.
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte on Tuesday said the governing party would oppose whatever legal action taken that is “unproductive and negative” for the country’s democracy.
Gwarube said they were expecting the ANC to oppose their applications.
“As the DA we are of the view that the IEC has erred in this regard and the ANC is well within its rights to oppose that because they stand to be the biggest winners in the scenario where the IEC incorrectly interprets the ConCourt’s order because they have been absolutely tardy in their business.”
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is expected to give an update later on Wednesday on the local government elections.