Political parties and independent candidates will be allowed another chance to submit nominations for their candidates to run for the Local Government Elections.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) made the announcement on Monday.
The IEC has determined this following the Constitutional Court’s decision that the local government elections should not be deferred, but should proceed on a date no late than the 1st of November this year.
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The candidate nomination process closed on the 23rd of August, but a number of parties including the African National Congress (ANC) and United Democratic Movement (UDM) wanted it reopened, citing inadequate time to hold their candidate selection processes due to COVID-19 restrictions as well as technical problems encountered with the IEC system.
IEC Chairperson, Glen Mashinini says that the Electoral Commission is determined to comply with the decisions of the Constitutional Court delivered last week. The apex court in dismissing the body’s bid for a deferment of elections to February next year, said the IEC must, if possible, allow voters a dedicated weekend to register or change their details.
“A registration weekend is a necessity ahead of these general elections, therefore a registration weekend is now scheduled for the weekend of the 18th and 19th of September 2021,” says Mashinini.
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Mashinini says that the Constitutional Court allows the Commission to make amendments to its election timetable.
“The scheme of the municipal election Act is that the voter registration deadline is supposed to precede the candidate nomination deadline. For example, people can only be nominated as candidates once registered on the voters roll and provided that they are registered in the relevant segment concerned. It is, therefore, necessary to allow political parties and independent candidates another chance to submit nominations,” says Mashinini.
The IEC’s decision has angered some parties, including the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which have threatened legal action saying the reopening favours the ruling party.
DA, PAC react to IEC announcement on Local Government Elections timetable
EFF reacts to IEC announcement on Local Government Elections timetable
However, the IEC says it would be premature for the Commission to speculate on such litigation saying that in a consultation with political parties on Monday, the majority were in favour of the opening of the nomination process and it additionally sought legal advice in arriving at its decision.
IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo says they will soon decide on a course of action.
“As soon as we are served papers, we will look at them and we will decide on a course of action including making an assessment of what the impact of that will be on the electoral process, but we all have to be mindful that we are working with very truncated timelines for this election and we need to move with deliberate speed on many aspects of the electoral process and we are asking really for everyone’s co-operation so we can give the country a credible process within a safe environment for the voters,” says Mamabolo.
The Electoral Commission has outlined a preliminary timetable towards the local government elections scheduled to take place on the 27th of October. Mamabolo has emphasised that deadlines are tight, with what needs to be done having to be congested into a shorter period than usual.
“The Commission will publish a new timetable on the date on which the Minister publishes the election date. Already we have given you some preliminary dates which we are working on. Firstly the registration weekend on the 18th and 19th, proclamation date on the 20th, the opening of applications for special votes from the 20th until 4th of October then the close of the candidate nomination process on the 21st,” Mamabolo says.
The IEC says for this election, it will be allowed for the usual two days of special voting but it is consulting with the Treasury for additional funds for a third day.
The Commission has rejected accusations by some that it has dropped the ball in preparing for this elections, saying it has done its best under very trying circumstances.
Municipal Elections 2021 | Political parties reach to IEC’s amendment of the LGE timetable