IEC ’at pains’ to explain its decision to reopen registration of candidates
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Johannesburg - In what could be a lifeline for the cash-strapped ANC, the IEC announced a new window for registration of candidates who failed to register to stand for this year’s local government elections.
For the first time in history, the ANC faced the prospect of not contesting for 93 municipalities in which it had missed the deadline for nominations.
But following its failure to secure a Constitutional Court order to postpone the October elections, IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said, in view of the fact that the voter registration process had been re-opened, a number of amendments to the electoral timetable were necessary, including the need to set a new deadline for candidate nominations.
This may face a hurdle as the DA said it had briefed its lawyers to explore legal avenues to oppose the decision.
September 18 and 19 would be used for voter registration, and that it was also “reasonably necessary” to amend the timetable and to reopen candidate registrations, he said.
Mashinini said the commission had undertaken measures to ensure they complied with the Constitutional Court order, and that a voter registration weekend was “a necessity” ahead of the elections.
Following the voter registration weekend, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will be expected to proclaim the new date of elections, he said.
The proclamation is due to be made on September 20, following the voter registration weekend.
This voter registration weekend would offer all eligible citizens an opportunity to register or update their registration details. All 23 151 voting stations would open from 8am to 5pm on both days.
“The scheme of the Municipal Electoral Act is such that the voter registration deadline is intended to precede the candidate nomination deadline. For example, persons can only be nominated as candidates once registered on the voters’ roll and provided they are registered in the relevant segment concerned.
“It is, therefore, necessary to allow political parties and independent candidates an opportunity to nominate candidates after the registration weekend of September 18-19, 2021 has occurred, and after the voters’ roll has closed,” he said.
There were 77 970 candidates, of which 911 were independent.
Following the proclamation of the election date, the commission will publish an amended election timetable, which would provide truncated time lines.
IEC commissioner Mosotho Moepya said the IEC rejected allegations that it was seeking to advance the position of one party. He said the commission had been “at pains” to make those understand that their decision was not to benefit the ANC or any specific party.
Chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the commission would be “technically” ready to deliver on voter registration weekend, as all logistical items – including personal protective equipment – were stored in warehouses.
He also announced that applications for special votes would open September 20 and close on October 4.
Mashinini said the use of special votes would take on heightened importance in this election because of the need to de-congest voting stations on Election Day.
Hailing the IEC decision, ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “We believe this is in line with constitutional and legislative prescripts.”
But DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille said: “While the Constitutional Court judgment underscored the importance of a voter registration period, which we welcome, we strongly object to the use of the window to re-open candidate registration. The two are clearly distinct from each other. There had been no prior weekend dedicated to voter registration, because this was cancelled in July due to the Covid spike.
“However, there was a clear deadline for candidate registration, which the ANC missed.”
Meanwhile, Parliament will go to recess on Friday in order to allow parties to campaign for the local government elections.
The national legislature’s third term was scheduled to end in September, but this was moved forward after the Constitutional Court ruled that the elections be held between October 27 and November 1.
The changes in the programme will affect the consideration of the report on the expropriation of land without compensation, parliamentary process to impeach Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, among others.