The African National Congress (ANC) has withdrawn its application to the Electoral Court to reopen candidate registration for local government elections.
The elections were scheduled to take place on 27 October, but the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is seeking a postponement to February next year at the Constitutional Court.
Pule Mabe, the ANC national spokesperson, said on Wednesday that the party was now going to wait for a decision from the Constitutional Court.
Last week the ANC said it had experienced difficulties in registering more than 30 of its candidates before Monday’s deadline.
Initially, the ANC said it would lodge an application with the Electoral Court to reopen the registration of candidates in terms of “Section 11(2)(a) of the Local Government: Municipal Electoral Act”.
Mabe said: “We did so after a number of parties failed to register all their candidates for local government elections”.
He said the failure was due to a combination of technical challenges on the IEC’s online candidate registration system and the pressure placed on candidate selection by restrictions on meetings to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These factors led former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to conclude that it would not be possible to hold free and fair elections on 27 October 2021,” explained Mabe.
“These factors, and this conclusion, led the IEC to approach the Constitutional Court to extend the deadline by which to hold local government elections.”
Mabe said the ANC sought to follow the most rigorous, inclusive, and participatory process to identify candidates that would enjoy the confidence of the people and represent them with integrity.
“We brought this application to protect the rights of hundreds of thousands of citizens who will be deprived of the right to vote for a candidate of their choice as a result of the inability of the party of their choice to register its candidates,” said Mabe.
He said as a majority party in government, the ANC has a broader responsibility to protect, strengthen and deepen our system of multiparty democracy.
“Accordingly, in view of the fact that the matter is before the Constitutional Court, the ANC has decided to withdraw its application and to await the judgment of the Cour,” said Mabe.
Last week the United Democratic Movement said it would support the ANC move to request the reopening of candidate registration, while the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters said they would oppose application.