ELIGIBILITY QUESTIONED: A resident casts his vote at a voting station at the Sicelo community hall near Meyerton.Picture: Itumeleng English/ANA
The eight by-elections in Tlokwe, which the Constitutional Court ruled were not free and fair, are continuing to haunt the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC).

In court papers filed last week, the IEC asked for a further 17-month extension to comply with an earlier Constitutional Court order to fix the voters roll.

If the IEC fails to secure an extension, it might be faced with a situation where it is forced to remove 1.3 million people from the roll.

The IEC’s problems started in 2013, when a group of candidates, who became known as the “Tlokwe Rebels”, decided to stand as independents against the ANC in eight wards in the Tlokwe Municipality.

The rebels were expelled after refusing to vote in a no-confidence motion that, as a result, saw the DA take control of the council from the ANC.

In the lead-up to the poll, the candidates said they were not given a voters roll with the addresses of those eligible to vote.

They also contended that many people who were registered to vote should not have been allowed to do so, and were either registered in the wrong ward or in the wrong voting district.

In 2016, the Constitutional Court gave the IEC 18 months to fix the voters roll.

At the time, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said the voters roll, as it stood, was “inconsistent with the rule of law”.

The IEC’s failure to record all available addresses of voters on the national voters roll was inconsistent with the constitution and invalid, he said.

Despite this, the court ruled that the local government elections had to go ahead.

Justice Mogoeng gave the IEC 18 months to fix the defects and obtain the outstanding addresses of millions of registered voters.

They had to be up-to-date before this month.

Now the IEC has asked the Constitutional Court to give it an extension from June 30 to November next year in order to comply with the ruling.

The extension of 17 months would allow the IEC to “ensure that the national and provincial elections due to take place in 2019 are not in any way imperilled by any party seeking to rely on the missing addresses as a basis to challenge the electoral results”.

In its papers filed in the Constitutional Court, the IEC said the possibility existed that should people be removed from the roll, this could result in further court challenges by parties dissatisfied with the 2019 electoral results.

The extension would also allow the IEC “to take additional steps to seek to further reduce the number of voters for whom it has missing, generic or incomplete addresses.

Lawson Naidoo, the executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution, said the request for an extension did not cast doubt on any elections held since the original Constitutional Court decision. It showed that the IEC was concerned that it didn’t have those addresses.