Johannesburg – The Constitutional Court reserved judgment
late on Monday night in the matter relating to the Independent Electoral
Commission's (IEC) urgent application for leave to appeal an earlier Electoral
Court ruling that it provide the addresses of registered voters to candidates
The IEC filed an application with the Constitutional
Court in April, asking it to set aside an Electoral Court ruling which it said
could see millions of people disqualified from voting.
On November 30 last year, the Constitutional Court ruled
that the 2013 Tlokwe by-elections were not free and fair.
The court ruled that all new voters who registered had to
provide details of their address, or sufficient details, of where they lived,
to place them in a voting district.
The by-elections were scheduled to be re-run in February
this year. The Electoral Court, however, halted them at the last minute after
six independent candidates complained that more than 4 198 addresses were
missing from the new voters' roll. Subsequently several other by-elections
around the country were postponed.
The IEC was arguing that, should the Electoral Court
judgment stand, the August 3 local government elections would not be able to go
ahead. This was because it could not provide addresses for 7.9 million voters
who were registered but whose addresses were not on the IEC's system.
The ANC agreed with the Electoral Commission and
supported the relief sought in the application.
The DA and IFP opposed the application for leave to
Anton Katz, for the DA, argued that the court should
order the relief sought in the direct access application but limit it only to
the 2016 local government elections.
Katz suggested that the entire country did not have the
problems facing the Tlokwe district and argued that the IEC should be able to
deploy all of its members to one area to resolve the problem.
Kemp J Kemp, representing the IFP, opposed the direct
access application proposing that a provisional balloting system be used by the
Electoral Commission to solve the issue.
He suggested that voters be allowed to vote and that the
matter regarding the missing addresses be balanced by checking the information
that voters did have available.
Kemp argued that it didn't seem impossible for the IEC to
collect information about the missing addresses in rural areas stating that
people should be able to say where they lived.
He said that the IEC, according to their affidavit, had
already identified voters who did not have addresses as well as those with
Wim Trengove, for the IEC, argued it was not the
commission's job to verify addresses, although it had always been obliged to
confirm that voters were registered in the correct district.
"We accept that the IEC may only register voters in
districts where they are ordinarily residents," Trengove said.
"A name on the roll without an address does not
imply irregular registration."
He said that before 2003, the IEC was not required to
keep addresses of voters and had no duty to go back and find the addresses of
those people already on the roll.
The IEC came under fire from Justice Sisi Khampepe who
said she couldn’t understand how the IEC couldn't obtain the addresses over the
past 13 years.
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng also pondered the idea of
Statistics South Africa working together with the IEC in obtaining the missing
addresses, however the parties questioned the validity of the information from