IEC: Decision to reopen candidate registrations based on solid legal advice

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has had its hands full explaining why it had elected to go ahead with registrations amid pushback from some political parties.

FILE: IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabulo addresses those gathered at the IEC ROC for the election results. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The Independent Electoral Commission said that its plans to hold the sixth municipal elections since the end of apartheid in 1994 were well under way and that it had set a new voter registration weekend date, while also reopening the registration for new candidates.

The commission has had its hands full explaining why it had elected to go ahead with registrations amid pushback from some political parties.

The parties claimed that the move was meant to benefit the governing African National Congress (ANC), which stood to lose out on contesting 93 municipalities.

The IEC held a briefing on Monday to outline its way forward following Friday’s Constitutional Court ruling, which ordered it to set a new date for voter registration and amend the election timetable as may be reasonably necessary.

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The IEC’s CEO, Sy Mamabolo, said that the decision to reopen candidate registrations was based on solid legal advice.

"It is not a decision that was taken recklessly, it has been taken in the interst of free and fair elections."

The IEC has also dismissed suggestions and open criticism that it could have handled the issue of holding an election during a pandemic much earlier as it denied that it could have found an alternative and less contentious solution, including approaching Parliament.

"It is not our station to say 'no, we like that, extend that, don't extend that'. It can't be. Ours is to ensure that we remain compliant and that we play within the parameters of the constitutional provisions."

On threats of legal action by the Democratic Alliance (DA), which said that the IEC’s interpretation of the Constitutional Court order was wrong, Mamabolo had this to say: "As soon as we are served papers, we will look at them and decide on a course of action, including making an assessment of what the impact of that would be on the electoral process."

Voter registration weekend will be on 18 and 19 September.

The commission said that it had also secured 40,000 voter management devices, which will be used for the first time to facilitate voter registration and consolidate data faster to allow for the inspection of the voter's roll.

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