The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says while it has postponed the national voter registration weekend scheduled for July 31 and August 1, voters can continue to register to vote on its virtual platform.

The IEC announced this after announcing that it has unanimously accepted the recommendations of the Moseneke Inquiry, which recommended that free and fair elections will not be possible on October 27.

The IEC says it will apply for authorisation with the courts for the polls’ postponement to February 2022.

IEC deputy chairperson, Masego Sheburi, says the commission is seeking legal advice on which court to approach.

“The Constitutional Court will have jurisdiction in relation the fact that this matter raises weighty constitutional matters however the court takes a dim view of being approached as a court that sits as a court of first and final instance it wants to hear the matters being vindicated first by a lower court, however it is approached. However, it is notionally possible that we could approach the Constitutional Court but we must make a case for direct access to that court and make a case for direct access to that court and that your matter is that of a constitutional nature,” explains Sheburi.

Should the courts not be amenable to the application to postpone the elections, another route would be to amend the Constitution.

“The Constitutional amendment route is a lengthy route it requires 70% or super majority of members of the national assembly it would also require support of at least six of the provinces. If you look at the submission of political parties, political parties have taken two divergent views there are those that want the elections proceed and there are those think elections cannot proceed because they won’t be free and fair. That alone should tell you that a constitutional amendment while notionally possible may not be possible given that political parties that must sponsor it and support it in the national assembly are divided on the matter,” adds Sheburi.

Mashinini says the commission will now consult with Cooperative Governance Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Treasury as well as political parties to communicate its decision.

He says the commission will also need to adjust its electoral schedule accordingly to accommodate a new date, starting with the deferment of the national registration weekend.

IEC Chairperson Glen Mashinini says only face-to-face registration has been affected by the developments.

“The commission reminds all eligible voters that the online registration facility launched recently will continue to provide a safe convenient and easy way to register as a voter and to update registration details and since its launch on the 14th of July more than 8 648 voters have already successfully used the system to register or to change their registration details,” he says.

Political parties have generally accepted the IEC’s decision, with some such as the DA saying they will watch closely to ensure that local elections do indeed take place at the earliest possible time when it is safe to hold them.

Electoral Commission briefing on decision on Local Government Elections