‘We can’t have free and fair elections’

2014-05-02 00:00

THE man who wants next Wednesday’s general elections postponed was adamant yesterday that there could be no free and fair elections in the country under the current commissioners of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

André Lötter said the commission has failed to put in place measures to guarantee the credibility of the voters’ roll.

“We can’t [in South Africa] have free and fair elections with the voters’ roll under this current commission,” Lötter said in reference to irregularities found in voter registrations in some wards last year.

He filed his court papers with the Electoral Court on Wednesday and gave the IEC until yesterday to oppose his challenge.

Lötter yesterday said the IEC had not filed its notice to oppose his legal action as at 10 am, and that he gave it until today to do so. The matter is set to be heard on Monday.

The IEC did not respond to questions regarding the latest court challenge.

Lötter had twice successfully interdicted by-elections in the Abaqulusi Municipality on grounds of irregular voter registration.

Although the electoral body had ordered investigation on the unlawful registration, there has been no punitive action against those responsible for transporting people to the ward.

In his latest court papers, he has asked for the general elections postponed for 90 days.

He also wants all the five commissioners be removed from office.

It is the second time he has made the call for the removal of commissioners in his protracted fight with the IEC in his many court challenges since last year when he contested the by-elections in Abaqulusi Municipality.

In his papers, he has cited the IEC and the five commissioners led by chairperson Pansy Tlakula as respondents.

But, offices or people that may have an interest in the matter such as the presidency and home affairs department are not on the list of respondents.

Lötter said the IEC has on about 17 occasions proved incompetent to organise free, fair and regular elections at municipal level due to its inability to prevent large-scale unlawful voter registrations.

He said the IEC had not implemented initiatives to prevent fraudulent voters being added to the voters’s roll.

Lötter said South African citizens’ political rights stood to suffer injury if the national and provincial elections went ahead.

“Such incompetence has resulted in a serious weakening of constitutional democracy on the municipal level,” he said.

“Moreover, the commission has neglected to put in place a nationwide remedy to such local-level failures, namely a system guaranteeing the veracity of the national common voters’ roll.

He also said the commission had made itself guilty of misconduct and incompetence, which were grounds for its removal.

“There is no other remedy other than to remove the commissioners and postpone the elections.”

He added that the postponement would be costly but it could be far more costly to the democratic system and have direct financial costs.

The IEC is already facing another challenge from some opposition parties that want chairperson Pansy Tlakula to resign, and the IFP has also threatened legal action over the hiring of teachers aligned to SA Democratic Teachers Union as electoral officers.

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