ConCourt judgment makes IEC 'suspect' - FF Plus

2016-06-14 21:12
(Genevieve Quintal, News24)

(Genevieve Quintal, News24)

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Cape Town - The Constitutional Court ruling that the August 3 elections can go ahead, even though there are problems with the voters' roll, means that the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) is now suspect, the Freedom Front Plus said on Tuesday.

"The judgment makes it clear that the IEC had not fulfilled its legal obligations with regards to the voters' roll and this judgment of the Constitutional Court is a compromise in the interest of democracy to allow the elections to go ahead on 3 August," FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said in a statement.

The court ruled earlier on Tuesday that the IEC's failure to record all available voters' addresses on the national common voters' roll was inconsistent with the Constitution, and therefore invalid.

However, handing down judgment, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said the judges had decided that it would give the IEC 18 months to rectify the situation.

In the meantime, the local government elections set for August 3 could go ahead.

Groenewald said the judgment made the IEC - once a core pillar of democracy which had declared previous elections free and fair - "suspect".

46% of addresses missing

Meanwhile, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs said the 18 months the court had given the IEC was enough to fix the defects on the voters' roll.

"The Committee will follow the elections and engage the IEC to establish the steps the organisation will take to remedy the defects on the voters' roll," said a statement issued on behalf of the committee's chairperson, Lemias Mashile.

Last month, Parliament was told that the IEC did not have the addresses of around 46% of the more than 26 million people registered to vote in the August elections, but that it was working hard to rectify this.

The issue arose as a result of a long running battle for control of the Tlokwe council in the North West in 2013.

This started with the ANC caucus in the council voting uncharacteristically with the opposition to remove the ANC-affiliated mayor in 2013. Six ANC councillors were expelled by the party and by-elections were to have replaced them.

In the run-up to the by-elections, candidates complained that they were not getting all the segments of the voters' roll, and there were no addresses. They feared people from other constituencies could rig the vote.

By-elections set aside

The candidates approached the Electoral Court for an order that the December by-elections be postponed, but the court was unable to convene to hear the application. 

The by-elections went ahead and six of the candidates lost.

After the by-elections, the IEC conducted its own investigation into the allegation that voters, not entitled to register in these wards, had been registered and that their participation had affected the by-election results.

This led to the Constitutional Court setting the by-elections aside and these were to be re-contested in February this year, with the addresses of voters available.

On the eve of the fresh by-elections, however, the Electoral Court stopped the voting processes after six independent candidates complained that the IEC had not upheld the November 2015 Constitutional Court ruling, as over 4 000 addresses were missing from the voters' roll. By-elections across the country were delayed as a result.

The commission said, before 2003, it had not been required to keep addresses of voters.

Read more on:    ff plus  |  iec  |  local elections 2016  |  politics

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