File picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
File picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Local government elections: All eyes on Concourt as it mulls DA’s challenge to reopening candidate nominations

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Sep 9, 2021

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Johannesburg - The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has indicated that it accepts the DA’s application as urgent and will comply with relief sought by the party ahead of the local government elections.

The opposition party on Tuesday maintained that the IEC’s decision to reopen the candidate nomination process was made “with no room for debate” and therefore wants it declared unconstitutional and unlawful and set aside.

The commission conceded on Wednesday that it acknowledged the urgency of the application.

“...This is because the commission is required to hold local government elections by no later than November 1 and there is an urgent need for a final decision from this court concerning the substantive relief sought by the Democratic Alliance. Referring the matter to the Electoral Court would cause undue delay and uncertainty in resolving the matter,” the IEC stated in its answering papers.

The DA’s bone of contention arises from the recent order by the Concourt to dismiss the IEC's application to delay the local government elections.

The Concourt order also stated that amendments could be made to the election timetable that were “reasonably necessary”.

While the apex court ordered that elections must be held this year, the IEC also announced that the candidate nomination process would be reopened.

However, in an accompanying affidavit by the DA's representative on the Party Liaison Committee, Werner Horn, said the “obvious” meaning of reasonably necessary was amendments necessary to cater for the reopening of the voters roll due to the voter registration drive.

“It is not a licence to make amendment(s) that are unconnected to reopening the roll and which the commission already decided not to make. Yet that is what the commission has done,” he said.

Horn said all parties had the opportunity to nominate candidates by August 23, which they did.

He said none were prevented from nominating their candidates due to the closure of the voters roll and that although some parties subsequently stated they did not nominate candidates in time, "the reason was either their incompetence or the commission's system".

“If a political party failed to ensure its members registered as voters so they could stand as candidates, or prospective independent candidates failed to take advantage of that opportunity, they have only themselves to blame,” said Horn.

He further stated that there was “absolutely no connection” between reopening the voters roll and reopening candidate nomination.

In totality, the DA advanced three arguments in its application.

First, it argued that the IEC’s decision to reopen candidate nominations was contrary to its initial dismissal of the EFF’s application for the same.

Second, it argued that the Concourt order only permitted amendments to the timetable to facilitate the compilation of a new voters roll and third, that the order did not permit political parties to contest new municipalities or new wards or submit proportional representation lists “where they did not previously nominate any candidate to stand”.

The DA listed the respondents as the IEC, Cogta Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, MECs for local government in all provinces, the ANC, IFP, EFF, the Makana Independent New Deal, African Transformation Movement, Forum 4 Service Delivery and One South Africa Movement.

A ruling on the application is yet to be made.

Political Bureau

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