The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) in KwaZulu-Natal says the African National Congress (ANC) will not be allowed to contest a by-election in ward 9 of the Mtubatuba Municipality on Wednesday.
The Electoral Commission says the party failed to meet the deadline to pay the deposit for their candidate. The ANC is challenging the decision in the Electoral Court.
The ward became vacant when the ANC councillor resigned.
Wards in three municipalities are expected to hold by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal. These are ward 28 in Umsunduzi, at Pietermaritzburg ward 12 in Dannhauser and ward 9 in Mtubatuba in the north of the province. However, the by-election in Dannhauser has been postponed to the 8th of March due to an objection about the voter’s roll.
Ward 28 in Umsunduzi became vacant after the membership of a Democratic Aliiance (DA) councillor was withdrawn. Ward 9 in Mtubatuba became vacant following the resignation of the ANC councillor.
The provincial electoral officer, Ntombifuthi Masinga says the ANC has gone to the Electoral Court after it allegedly failed to pay the deposit for their candidate in Mtubatuba on time. Masinga says should the court rule in favor of the ANC, they will re-run the by-election.
“The ANC will not be in the ballot paper for the Mtubatuba by-election because they didn’t meet the deadline of payment of the deposit to contest the election which is a pre-requisite for any candidate that would like to contest the by-election. There has since been a legal challenge by the ANC on that matter. And is currently with the court and we will then await the court outcome whilst we continue with the by election.”
Sway balance of power
Political analyst, Professor Bheki Mngomezulu says the by-election in Mtubatuba can sway the balance of power in the council, as well as in the Umkhanyakude District Council.
“If the ANC does not contest the ward in Mtubatuba it will have serious implications because whatever happens in Mtubatuba will have a direct impact on the constitution of Umkhanyakude district where in there are also a number of controversies as to who is in charge. One moment the ANC is in charge, the next moment the IFP is in charge. But then secondly it will also affect the ANC negatively in the sense that it is currently in great process of rebuilding itself.”
The ANC’s spokesperson in KwaZulu-Natal, Mafika Mndebele says they did pay the deposit on time, but a mistake was made with the reference number given to the bank.
“We see the IEC wanting to act harsh and unfair to the ANC for whatever agenda. In this case our administrator was able to go to the bank, I think three days before the closing date and made a payment on the IEC account. Unfortunately the reference that was used was wrong reference, the administrator then went back to the bank corrected that and clearly there was a good intention to pay in time as required by the law. As the ANC we have instructed our lawyers to file for an urgent application in the electoral Court and challenge this irrational decision of the IEC.”
Meanwhile, Masinga, the provincial electoral officer, says the by-election in Dannhauser has been postponed to the 8th of March due to an objection about the voters’ roll. Masinga says they approached the Electoral Court after realising that they cannot resolve disputes on time.
“We are proceeding with the by-elections as planned in Mtubatuba and Msunduzi municipalities. Unfortunately the Danhauser is not going ahead because there was voter’s roll objection that were lodged with the Electoral Commission and we realised that we not going to have sufficient time to investigate that. As a result we approached the Electoral Court for a postponement which was duly granted and that by-election will now be held on the 8th of March,” says Masinga.
The Mtubatuba Municipality is currently controlled by an IFP-EFF coalition after no party gained an outright majority in the local government elections.
Meanwhile, the DA has deployed its federal leader, John Steenhuisen to campaign in Pietermaritzburg at the weekend.