THE Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has pegged its stance that reopening the candidate registration process was not done to benefit the ANC alone, but all political parties, in an effort to promote free and fair elections.
The Commission held a media briefing on Monday, following the Constitutional Court order that local government elections must be held on any day between October 27 and November 1 this year.
IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini announced that September 18 and 19 will be used for voter registration.
He added that it was also “reasonably necessary” to amend the timetable and to reopen candidate registrations.
Mashinini said the commission had undertaken measures to ensure they complied with the Constitutional Court order. He said a voter registration weekend was “a necessity” ahead of the elections.
Following the voter registration weekend, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will be expected to proclaim the new date of elections, he said.
The proclamation will be made on September 20, following the voter registration weekend.
He said that there was a “divergence” of views on the decision to reopen candidate registrations.
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.
IEC vice chairperson Jane Love echoed his sentiments, saying that the commission could only act on the basis of the court order and within its mandate.
“We have to enable the right of all those legible to vote to exercise their right to vote, and for those who are legible to stand for elections, to be able to do so.
“We have to treat all parties and independent candidates equally,” she said.
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 said that training for staff had already been done and the commission would only have to confirm venues for that weekend.
Also talking to the allegations that reopening the candidate registrations benefited the ANC alone, Mamabolo explained that it initially denied the ANC’s request to open candidate registration, before the ConCourt’s order.
“When the ANC requested that we reopen the candidate registrations, we declined. We said we could not do so, as this would amount to opening it on an ad-hoc basis.
“But now the circumstances have completely changed,” Mamabolo said.