Political parties, NGOs get green light to join IEC’s ConCourt bid to postpone municipal polls
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Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court has given six political parties permission to intervene in Electoral Commission of SA’s (IEC’s) bid to have the local government elections postponed until February next year.
The ANC will be joined by the DA, the IFP, the African Transformation Movement, Forum 4 Service Delivery (F4SD) and the Makana Independent New Deal as intervening parties in the IEC’s application.
Four lobby groups and non-governmental organisations – the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, Freedom Under Law, the SA Institute of Race Relations and AfriForum – have been admitted as friends of the court and will be permitted to make brief oral submissions when the matter is heard on Friday.
The IEC approached the apex court to have the municipal polls, which are scheduled for October 27 shelved until February next year.
In its application, the commission stated that it did not approach the Constitutional Court seeking leave to violate or mischievously amend the Constitution as some friend of the court and intervening parties have suggested.
IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini told the Concourt that the commission recognised the conundrum it is facing and its inability to comply with the competing demands has led to it seeking guidance from the country’s highest court on how to best accommodate these demands.
The ANC has suggested the polls be held no later than April 1, next year, due to the predicted rise in Covid-19 infections, which would not be conducive for free and fair polls.
The IFP warned that continuing with the elections during the Covid-19 pandemic unreasonably compels the country’s citizens to choose between the right of their own bodily integrity, health and safety and their right to vote.
According to the IFP, the elections should be held no later than May next year.
The DA told the court that the IEC has provided no evidence to suggest that the turnout will be significantly lower because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In its intervention application, the official opposition quotes the evidence presented by renowned clinical infectious diseases epidemiologist Prof. Salim Abdool Karim, who said the best time to hold the elections is October, which he believes is probably a safer bet than going with December or March.
The F4SD, which has 28 councillors in 13 municipalities, is opposed to the postponement of elections as this would intrude, limit or suspend its members' political rights in terms of the Constitution.