Elections 2021: 'We'll watch you like a hawk,' says DA to IEC after court judgment

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DA supporters erect registration posters in Cape Town.
DA supporters erect registration posters in Cape Town.
Gallo Images/ER Lombard
  • The DA has accepted the Constitutional Court ruling against them, allowing the IEC to reopen candidate registrations.
  • The ANC welcomed the ruling and said they would register all their candidates by the new deadline.
  • The IFP said it disagrees with the ruling, but will abide by it.

The DA has accepted the Constitutional Court's judgment dismissing its application to set aside the Electoral Commission of South Africa's (IEC) decision to reopen candidate registrations, but will be watching the IEC "like a hawk" for the rest of this election season.

The ANC, meanwhile, has welcomed the decision that will allow it to register candidates in the wards and municipalities where it failed to meet the initial deadline.

On Monday morning, the Constitutional Court handed down its judgment.

READ | Elections 2021: All you need to know

It dismissed the DA's contention that its earlier judgment on postponing the election forbade the reopening of candidate registrations and found that reopening candidate registrations is, "... within the legislative scheme".

However, it didn't make a finding on whether the IEC acted with bias in favour of the ANC and left the door open for a future challenge on whether the elections would be free and fair.

The DA latched onto this. At a media briefing shortly after the judgment, DA leader John Steenhuisen said they accepted the ruling.

He said they challenged the IEC's decision because they were of the view, and still are, that the IEC's decision was for the political benefit of the ANC.

"Obviously, it is not the outcome we wanted, but we respect the apex court," he said.

He said they noted that the court didn't pronounce whether the IEC acted with bias and that the door has been left open for a future court challenge.

"We put the IEC on notice that we are going to watch them like hawks," he said.

READ | Local elections: DA heads to ConCourt to nullify IEC decision reopening candidate registration

He and DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille find it "highly suspicious" and "interesting" that the IEC, in their court papers for their unsuccessful application to postpone the elections, argued that they couldn't reopen the voter registration and candidate registration processes, but after that ruling, and when the ANC failed to register all their candidates, they managed to do just that.

Mkhuleko Hlengwa
IFP MP and chairperson of Scopa Mkhuleko Hlengwa.

Steenhuisen said he remains of the view that had it been the DA or any other opposition party, this would not have happened.

In 2011 the IFP missed the deadline to register some of their candidates, and in 2016 the NFP failed to register all their candidates on time.

Neither party's application to the Electoral Court to allow them to register their candidates were successful. The ANC abandoned a similar application.

The ANC welcomed the decision.

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"The judgment vindicates the position taken by the ANC that the right of citizens to vote is inextricably linked to their right to stand for public office," ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement.

"It also confirms the correctness of the support given to the IEC's decision by the ACDP, AIC, Al Jamah-ah, Cope, FF Plus, Good, PAC, and the UDM."

Pule Mabe.

He called on the DA to, "... refrain from further attacks on the integrity of the judiciary and [the] IEC".

He claimed the ANC is ready to register all its candidates by Wednesday, the new deadline set by the IEC.

READ | This is about the right to stand for political office, Ramaphosa says as IEC gives ANC a lifeline

"Our candidates have been selected through a rigorous, democratic and participatory process involving communities in the choice of who should represent them in local government, the sphere of government closest to the people," Mabe said.

The IFP also noted the judgment in respectful disagreement.

Time

"We had hoped that the Constitutional Court would interrogate the bona fides of the Commission's view further, but possibly time constraints prevented a more thorough interrogation," IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said in a statement.

Like the DA, the IFP noted that the Constitutional Court didn't make a final decision on whether the IEC had an ulterior motive and said they would "closely monitor" the elections' freeness and fairness.

"The IFP feels this judgment is regrettable but will abide by the Court's decision."

"The IFP is ready for the upcoming elections and will meet those who have been allowed to come in through the back door at the ballot box on Election Day. The electorate will ultimately decide, and we believe that the IFP has presented a credible alternative to bring the necessary change to provide a functional local government to the people," said Hlengwa.

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