Elections 2021: IEC, DA in court battle over reopening of candidate registration process

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The IEC filed a responding affidavit to the DA's Constitutional Court application challenging its reopening of the candidate registration process for the municipal elections.
The IEC filed a responding affidavit to the DA's Constitutional Court application challenging its reopening of the candidate registration process for the municipal elections.
(Gallo Images / Photo by Dino Lloyd)
  • The IEC filed court papers to oppose the DA's application challenging the reopening of the candidate registration process. 
  • The IEC insists the DA misread the court order which compelled it to open the voter registration process.
  • According to the IEC, numerous by-elections, held during the pandemic, had been a good litmus test for its preparedness. 

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) filed a responding affidavit to the DA's Constitutional Court application challenging its reopening of the candidate registration process for the municipal elections. 

This was confirmed on Monday by the IEC's deputy chief electoral officer, Masego Sheburi, who said: "Our lawyers actually filed the responding affidavit this afternoon."

He said the IEC would be opposing the DA's application and asking the court to "throw the matter out".

However, he added, because of the urgency of the matter, the IEC would not be challenging the DA's application for direct access.

READ | Elections 2021: IEC remains steadfast on decision to reopen candidate registration

The crux of the IEC's challenge would, according to Sheburi, be "the DA's interpretation of the court's order". 

"We do not have the full reasons from the court as to what informed the order, but the DA has already read the order to say that the reopening of the candidate regulation process is not permitted. This is contrary to the IEC's reading of the order, which specifically says that 'the IEC must where necessary' make amendments to the electoral timetable and specifically says that the voter registration ought to be reopened," said Sheburi. 

The voter registration entitles voters not only to be included on the roll, but to vote, to nominate candidates and to stand for public office. Therefore, merely opening the voter registration for those, who are eligible to vote, but not affording them the opportunity to stand for nomination, which is also their right, would be unconstitutional.


He added the IEC was confident the proposed amendments to the electoral timetable met all the requirements for rationality and were lawful. 

Sheburi said the electoral commission was ready for the upcoming voter registration, to be held on 18 and 19 September. 

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

"All of our 23 155 voting stations will be open over the weekend and we have been embarking on refresher courses for our staff that will be assisting with the registration," said Sheburi. 

He said the numerous by-elections, which took place during the pandemic, had been a good litmus test for the IEC's staff - and he was confident the organisation was ready to conduct such a huge undertaking.

According to Sheburi, non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as wearing of masks, social distancing and sanitising, would be enforced at all voting stations, while staff would be provided with the necessary personal protective equipment.

To further reduce the risk of it becoming a super-spreader event, Sheburi encouraged all those who could to register online. 

He took the opportunity to dispel allegations that the IEC's online infrastructure experienced glitches during the political party candidate registration last month. 

"We have stated as much in our court papers, that no such a thing happened, and we are confident that our online infrastructure has been checked and prepared to handle the influx of registering eligible voters," said Sheburi.  

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