Opposition parties head to court to block IEC from reopening candidate list

Some opposition parties have even accused it of aiding the African National Congress so that it can make up for its failure to register candidates for nearly 100 wards.

DA leader John Steenhuisen. Picture: @Our_DA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Several opposition parties are going to court to try stop the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s decision to reopen the candidate registration process ahead of the local government elections.

The move, which was announced by the IEC on Monday, follows a Constitutional Court judgment for the municipal elections to go ahead between the 27 October and 1 November.

READ:

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

- IEC defends move to reopen candidate registrations for municipal polls

The apex court also ordered that voters registration must take place, this has now been scheduled for 18 and 19 September.

But opposition parties have largely rejected the development and have questioned the commission’s credibility.

Some have even accused it of aiding the African National Congress so that it can make up for its failure to register candidates for nearly 100 wards.

With just seven weeks to go before the country votes in the local government elections, South Africa is facing an obstacle course mainly made up of political challenges.

WATCH: IEC re-opens voter and candidate registration for 2021 elections

First the IEC and government must create a safe environment for free and fair elections to take place in the middle of a pandemic.

Then comes the opposition parties, who pose multiple threats and several - including the EFF, DA and IFP - said they'd challenge the IEC.

DA leader John Steenhuisen has accused the commission of behaving recklessly.

“They’ve spent the better part of this year not on preparations, but on trying to delay the elections and that was what the governing party wanted. It’s also what one or two of the opposition parties wanted but certainly not what the law says.”

Meanwhile, the IFP - which has also rejected the commission’s interpretation of the apex court ruling - said it wanted to explore other legal avenues to block the reopening of the candidate list.

IEC RESPONDS TO CTITICISM

The IEC said it had no other choice but to make the decisions it made regarding the upcoming local government elections, emphasising that it prioritised the rights of voters.

Despite the disapproval directed at the IEC by some in society, the commission said it stood by the series of actions it took, which had brought the country to this point.

The commission’s CEO Sy Mamabolo said the work done by the elections review panel, which informed the legal action, was necessary.

"The Moseneke process, it was a very important process in our view. It balanced very important constitutional imperatives and that is the regularity of elections."

On whether these processes couldn't have been considered and actioned much earlier in light of the COVID 19 pandemic, Mamabolo said they had no way of knowing things would only get worse.

“Certainly, the commission could not have anticipated in March 2020 that the pandemic will take as long as it is nor could the commission have contemplated the different variants, as we have heard." Mamabolo said.

He also explained that they could not have approached Parliament with their predicament once the panel recommended that elections should be postponed.

Mamabolo said they had no right to motivate for a constitutional amendment as they could only act within provisions extended to the commission in the Constitution, and that is why they approached the apex court,

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