Constitutional Court File picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - The Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has once again asked the Constitutional Court to suspend the invalidity of its voters roll, to avoid having the outcomes of next year’s general elections being taken to court by aggrieved political parties.

On Wednesday, the IEC told the court that it needed an extension of the suspension of the declaration of invalidity made by the court in 2016, in which the commission was given two years, until June 30, to ensure that the complete details of addresses for all registered South African voters were collected.

At the time, the commission had only 34% of voters’ addresses recorded, which the court found would prevent those contesting elections from verifying if voters had registered in the correct voting districts.

The court said this would impair the ability of candidates to canvass voters, and the IEC’s failure to compile a valid voters roll with valid addresses was unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, the commission argued that while it had managed to record the addresses of around 82% of registered voters, it wanted the suspension of invalidity and extension until after next year’s national and provincial elections to complete a valid voters roll.

The DA and IFP opposed the application, stressing that it would take away the right of political parties to access the court when they were aggrieved.

For the IEC, advocate Geoff Budlender said the request was aimed at preventing political parties from using the absence of addresses to challenge the 2019 elections.

“What this application seeks to achieve is to ensure the credibility of next year’s elections is not impaired by the mere absence of the addresses.

"The IEC does not seek to immunise itself from the challenges on the basis that the elections were not free and fair. It will remain open to any party to come to court and say they were not free and fair or that people were bused in from one province to another," he said.

Advocate Kemp J Kemp, for the IFP, said the IEC appeared to be pre-emptive of problems ahead of next year’s elections as a result of the problematic voters roll, contending that the absence of addresses opened it up to manipulation.

IEC deputy chairperson Terry Tselane said they were confident the court would be sympathetic.

Political Bureau