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ANC wants reopening of candidates registration

Party had 'difficulties' registering candidates on IEC website, which suffered technical problems in final hours before Monday's deadline: Jessie Duarte

ANC ’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.
ANC ’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.
Image: Esa Alexander

The ANC will need the support of other political parties who can jointly show that the electoral systems and processes made it difficult to register its candidates in more than 30 municipalities for the upcoming local government elections.

This is according to law expert Dr Llewelyn Curlewis from the University of Pretoria who said the onus will be on the party to prove that the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has administratively made it unfair for it to meet Monday’s deadline.

The ANC announced that it will approach the Electoral Court to force the commission to reopen the local government election candidate list process after it had difficulties registering its candidates on the IEC website.

The party said it suffered technical problems in the final hours before the deadline on Monday.

The ANC's deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said on Thursday that voters in about 30 municipalities will not be able to vote for an ANC candidate — unless the system was reopened to allow it to make the necessary corrections.

She said she was appealing to the court to consider that there were similar problems faced by all parties.

“I believe we were not the only party with difficulties. Our understanding is that there were a number of other political parties who faced the same problem towards the last hours,” she said.

This included that the system was “freezing out where we had entered the data”.

“It froze and it was not accepted on the other side, even though on our screen it said 'admitted'. So there is a difficulty and we would like it to be recognised and corrected.”

Curlewis said the support of other parties who can demonstrate through confirmatory affidavits that they too were affected would be key in helping the ANC’s cause.

“The ANC needs to prove to the court that it was as a result of unfair rules and regulations that now exist that they could not timeously get their preferred list in,” Curlewis said.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, who has also raised the same concerns, said they were prepared to join the legal challenge as friends of the court.

Holomisa said the lockdown regulations have made it difficult for parties who rely on list conferences to get their candidate lists ready to meet the deadline.

“We are also challenging the 23 August deadline for the registration... it's for the first time in the history of the IEC where all political parties were not agreeing to the timetable of the IEC,” Holomisa said.

According to  Duarte, the ANC will put forward in its court application that the party was heavily affected by the level 4 lockdown, which banned all political gatherings, meaning branches and communities did not have enough time to hold meetings.

“The process of registering our candidates to the IEC experienced major challenges on Monday... We’re assessing the effect of these challenges and [the] way forward. We will be approaching the electoral court to reopen the process for at least one day for corrections and additions to be made,” Duarte said.

“The challenges we faced were caused by a combination of factors, many out of our control. First of all, the Covid-19 level 4 [restrictions] banned all meetings for most of July and this meant that more than 15,000 branch and community meetings had to be held from late July until August 20 to nominate and hold meetings with ward candidates.”

She said in some communities there were still nominations meetings being held on the day the IEC was scheduled to close the registration process. This, according to Duarte, affected their timeline.

“As a result, our deadlines were hard to meet. We faced numerous challenges. Many candidates' IDs were rejected due to the absence of voter registration during the period. So they were not registered properly in the wards where they were selected as a candidate and therefore the IEC system did not have them as a registered voter. That was one of the reasons some were rejected.

“Second, as we were entering, the IEC system repeatedly froze and locked out our administrators during the final few hours before the deadline data already entered into the system was voided and had to be re-entered,” Duarte said.

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