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Chief Justice urges parties in IEC case to reach agreement

The parties involved must reach an agreement on whether voters’ addresses are necessary for local elections.

FILE: One of two temporary voting registration stations set up in Denver near Johannesburg's CBD after protests in the area left station venues closed. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has urged parties involved in the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) case to reach an agreement about whether voters' addresses are necessary for the upcoming election.

The Constitutional Court has heard an urgent application for leave to appeal in a case that centres on the obligation of the IEC to obtain all the addresses of registered voters.

The IEC said it's impossible to verify the addresses of 18 million voters in such a short time period, warning it could take at least three years to do so.

After nine hours of argument, legal teams agreed that the local government election should go ahead - but they disagreed on a number of issues, specifically on how the IEC has handled recording voters' addresses.

Wim Trengove argued that the IEC was not obliged to record addresses before December 2003 and it would take years to verify the information of voters registered beforehand.

Independent candidates argued that the IEC was able to reach four million voters during the registration weekends held earlier this year and it should be able to capture all addresses before the election.

Mogoeng was at pains to try and convince parties to come up with a solution.

"Nobody can ever force you to agree, but it's an option worth pursuing."

'IEC SHOULD START COLLECTING ADDRESSES'

Independent candidates have argued that the IEC should start collecting addresses of voters as it should have done after 2003 ahead of this year's election.

Andre Bosman, a representative for the independent candidates, says the IEC was wrong not to start collecting addresses of voters after 2003 when it was obliged to, but believes this year's election should go ahead with the addresses that are available.

"If it's practically or easily obtainable to get those addresses, then they must get it."

In an attempt to get the parties to agree Mogoeng asked if voters without addresses should remain on the roll.

"Why does that not accord with the construction of where available that suggests that those are their addresses that not available before the elections are held?"

JUDGMENT RESERVED

The Constitutional Court yesterday reserved judgment in the IEC's application for leave to appeal the ruling.

It's unclear when the court will hand down judgment.

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