IEC says it is ready for local government elections
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THE Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) defended their decision to reopen the candidate nomination process and assured Parliament they were ready to deliver a successful election next month.
The IEC briefed the joint Parliamentary committee on home affairs, and the select committee on security and justice, on the implications of the Constitutional Court ruling on the local government elections and the commission’s readiness.
IEC deputy chief executive Masego Sheburi, who led the presentation to the committee, said their decision to open the registration process was based on the Constitutional Court order, that set aside the proclamation initially made by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
Sheburi said that by setting aside the proclamation, the court effectively “unsealed” the voters roll and the candidate registration roll.
“The net effect of setting aside the proclamation is that people can still register and change their details on the voters roll.
“The registration entitles voters to be included on the roll, to vote, to nominate candidates, and to stand for public office,” Sheburi said.
“The IEC is confident that the proposed amendments to the electoral timetable meets all the requirements for rationality, and is lawful,” he added.
IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini told the committee that, since the matter was now embroiled in court, it was sub-judice and the IEC could not further answer the committees’ questions on the reopening of candidate registrations. He said the IEC would be making a detailed representation to court on the matter.
“The matter would be sub-judice for us to entertain further.
“We beg members to allow us the space to deal with it in court,” Mashinini said.
Mashinini assured the committee they were ready to deliver a successful election and voters registration weekend, as preparations “are well under way” currently.
He told the joint committee that detailed programmes and project plans were “on track”, and clarified that issues raised by the IEC in its court application, to delay the local government elections, were “probable risks”.
He said the IEC made its application based on the recommendation of retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke in his inquiry report, that it would not be safe to hold the national local government elections in October, in the wake of an increasing number of Covid-19 infections and deaths.
In his answers to the committees, Sheburi said that the IEC’s plans always contemplated an election for the original date in October, and their level of preparedness remained on par.
Sheburi said that plans were also in place to ensure voters and staff were well protected against the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, with personal protective equipment and sanitisers readily available.
He reported that IEC officials were currently in the process of updating contracts and re-confirming the availability of venues, for both the voter registration weekend and election day.
With the IEC announcing voter registration to take place next weekend, Sheburi said they were in the process of providing refresher courses for staff.
He said that all logistical resources were in storage facilities, and being prepared and packed for distribution to voting registration stations.
Sheburi said that they were also in the process of stress-testing 40 000 new voter management devices which would be used for the first time over the registration weekend.
“These are being charged and will be distributed to voting stations. These devices will facilitate the process of voter verification almost instantaneously,” he said.
The 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.