Con Court Refuses To Delay October Polls

Local government elections will be held between 27 October and 1 November 2021 the Constitutional Court ruled on Friday.

The court turned down a request by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to permit it to bend the rules to delay the elections to February next year.

Citing the Covid-19 pandemic, the IEC said the delay would allow it to run free, fair, and safe elections.

However, the court in a majority decision dismissed the request and instead ordered that elections go ahead as stipulated by the constitution.

The African National Congress (ANC), which was in favour of a delay, said it welcomed the ruling.

“We are studying the judgment,” said Pule Mabe, ANC national spokesperson.

Reacting to the ruling, John Steenhuisen, leader of the Democratic Alliance, said his party “was happy”.

He said his party met the deadline and registered all its candidates and paid all the relevant fees.

Steenhuisen’s comments were an obvious jibe directed at the ANC, which failed to register nearly 100 candidates and had considered requesting the IEC to reopen the process.

However, new voters and those who have changed their places of residence will have an opportunity to register after the court ordered a weekend of voter registration.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said while they preferred a delay in the polls, they were bound by the court ruling.

“We wish to warn the IEC not to misinterpret this court judgement and the instruction to open voter registration as an opportunity to reopen the process of candidate submission forward and proportional representation submission,” warned the EFF.

“All political parties were afforded the same amount of time to submit their candidates by the 23rd of August 2021, in the same platform and under the same deadline.

“Any attempt to reopen that process would confirm that the IEC operates on the whims and needs of the ruling party and lacks independence and partiality.”

Auntie Pat’s GOOD party said: “We welcome the Constitutional Court order issued this afternoon that provides for the local government elections to take place before 1 November 2021”.

Brett Herron, GOOD Secretary-General said: “This preserves the supremacy of the constitution.

“We also welcome the setting aside of the Minister of COGTA’s promulgation of the election date.

“This promulgation took place without a final voter registration weekend, which was meant to take place on 31 July and 1 August 2021.

“The promulgation of the election closed the voters roll denying new voters the opportunity and right to register for the election.”

The court order addresses the unlawful exclusion of these South Africans who are entitled to vote.

Herron said GOOD has maintained 27 October 2021 as the date around which we planned our election preparations.

“We look forward to contesting in 45 municipalities across 5 provinces and we are confident that we will have hundreds of GOOD councillors elected on or before 1 November 2021.”

The Forum4SeviceDelivery (F4SD) said it welcomes the ruling.

“As a party, we are glad the IEC did not allow the ANC to create more excuses that would halt service delivery, allow more corruption and continue to deprive our people of living in better conditions,” said the forum.

“The fact that ANC has failed to register their candidates in around 36 municipalities has got nothing to do with IEC as this happened with other parties in 2016.

“As a party we believe it’s all systems go and South Africans have a right to exercise their right.”