Vryheid by-election postponed

2013-08-06 21:18
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Durban - The Constitutional Court has ordered the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to postpone a by-election in the northern KwaZulu-Natal town of Vryheid.

IEC spokesperson Kate Baphela said on Tuesday that the election in Ward 22 of the Abaqulusi municipality would not go ahead on Wednesday, as originally planned.

This came barely a week after the IEC announced it had removed 1 500 voters from the voters' roll. Baphela said the IEC was still studying the court judgment.

The postponement was the second in the ward.

An initial by-election date of 24 April was abandoned after its former African National Congress councillor Andre Lotter obtained a court order. The IEC was then ordered to investigate whether names had been fraudulently added to the voters' roll.

Last week, IEC chair Pansy Tlakula said 1 525 people were removed from the roll and transferred back to their original wards as it could not be proved that they were ordinarily resident in Ward 22.

When the IEC published the names of 1 534 voters, urging them to make representations to the IEC, only 11 people came forward. Eight were able to persuade the IEC that they should be registered in the ward. One had since re-registered in another voting district.

The latest postponement followed another challenge by Lotter, who had claimed that the IEC had not sufficiently investigated how the extra 1 525 people came to be on the roll.

The IEC, the ANC and the Inkatha Freedom Party have until 20 August to object to the matter being submitted to the Electoral Court, for it to determine whether the IEC properly investigated Lotter's complaint of voters' roll fraud, and whether penalties should be applied to the political parties involved.

Anyone found guilty of forcing someone to register or persuading them to do so can face a maximum 10-year jail term if convicted by the Electoral Court.

If a political party was found to have been complicit in such a fraud, the court could fine it up to R200 000. Deregistration of the party was the top penalty.

The municipality is currently under administration. It was formerly controlled by the ANC with the help of the National Freedom Party.

Lotter's resignation forced the by-election, leaving the ANC tied with the Inkatha Freedom Party on 16 seats each in the municipality.

The NFP has seven seats, the Democratic Alliance three and one seat is controlled by a candidate from the Owethu Residents' Organisation.

A split within the NFP's ranks resulted in a hung municipality, with the same number of votes in favour of the IFP and the ANC, when the speaker was included.

Read more on:    iec  |  pansy tlakula  |  pietermaritzburg  |  politics

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