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IEC prepares for polls as it continues with Concourt application to get a postponement

The local government elections are set for October 27. File photo.
The local government elections are set for October 27. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it will proceed with all the logistics of organising local government elections for Oct. 27 while proceeding with its Constitutional Court application to get a postponement of the polls.

This was announced by IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini on Wednesday, just a day after co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma proclaimed Oct. 27 as the date on which the local government elections should be held.

Mashinini said Dlamini-Zuma’s proclamation triggers the requirement for the IEC to publish an election timetable. The election timetable spans 85 days and lays down the key dates and deadlines for various electoral milestones until Oct. 27. The timetable will be published today.

Another consequence of the proclamation of voting day is that it closes the voters’ roll for the purposes of the election on Oct. 27.

“This means no new voters may be admitted to the voters’ roll for the proclaimed election date. This is inclusive of all forms of registration that is both physical as well as electronic registrations,” Mashinini said.

Currently, the voters roll stands at 25.7-million registered voters.

Proclamation also opens the candidate nomination process and this window will close on Aug. 23 at 5pm.

On Tuesday, Dlamini-Zuma proclaimed the date of the elections despite former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke’s findings that the elections may be compromised due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dlamini-Zuma said gazetting the date is in no way contradicting Moseneke’s conclusion but just “merely fulfilling our obligations”.

Moseneke was appointed by the IEC to conduct an inquiry on whether it was possible to hold free and fair elections in the current Covid-19 environment. At the time of the inquiry, the country was still facing a third wave which was gaining momentum each week. Moseneke recommended that the local government elections be held in February next year.

The IEC welcomed his recommendations but indicated that it would need to get a court order to postpone the date of the elections.

Mashinini told journalists that the IEC has gone to the Constitutional Court on urgent basis to get the court to hold the local government elections outside the period stipulated by the law.

“Additionally, we want the court to authorise the minister of Cogta to withdraw the notice calling the forthcoming local government election and setting the 27 October 2021 as the date on which they will be held; and issue a fresh notice call and setting a date before 28 February 2022 for the forthcoming local government elections,” Mashinini said.

The IEC also wants the apex court to assume ongoing supervisory jurisdiction, requiring the commission to report to the court periodically on its progress in arranging the election for February 2022.

The commission is expected to file its papers in the Constitutional Court by close of business today.

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