IEC to approach ConCourt to appeal Electoral Court ruling

Pretoria – The Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) will approach the Constitutional Court to appeal an Electoral Court ruling that forced the postponement of by-elections, the institution said on Monday.

The decision followed an extraordinary meeting of the IEC to review last week’s order by the Electoral Court.

"At the meeting, the commission resolved to instruct the Electoral Commission’s legal team to prepare an urgent appeal of the Electoral Court order at the Constitutional Court," said chairperson Vuma Mashinini.

It also resolved to "embark on a variety of initiatives to update the voters’ roll with as many addresses for voters as possible ahead of the upcoming by-elections and this year’s municipal elections".

The IEC, at the last minute, postponed by-elections due to take place last week in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West and the Western Cape on Wednesday. 

On Tuesday night, the court ordered the postponement of elections in six wards that were originally scheduled to take place in Tlokwe in the North West.

Interpretation of ConCourt ruling

Independent candidates competing in Tlokwe complained in court, saying the commission had not complied with a Constitutional Court ruling to explain how the addresses of voters were placed on the voters roll.

Mashinini said the commission deliberated on the Electoral Court order of last week in conjunction with the Constitutional Court ruling of November 30, 2015. 

He said a number of uncertainties had arisen following the differences in interpretation of the Constitutional Court ruling.

Among others, it was whether the judgment of the Constitutional Court, with regard to the capture of addresses for voters, "was prospective or retrospective in as far as it related to voters who were on the voters’ roll prior to 30 November 2015".

Other uncertainties, according to the IEC, included whether the lack of an address on the voters’ roll invalidated that voters’ roll and whether the term "where available" in the legislation related to the address being available to the Electoral Commission or available to the voter.

"The commission believes that an appeal to the Constitutional Court will serve to provide the necessary clarity and certainty regarding its original ruling and the obligations of the Electoral Commission," Mashinini said.

It was feared that the postponement would result in the upcoming municipal elections being pushed to next year, but Mashinini said the organisation would continue with all preparations for the 2016 municipal elections as planned – including the voter registration weekend taking place at all voting stations on Saturday and Sunday.

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