Cape Town - Parliament will on Monday hold an urgent meeting to discuss the implications of the Constitutional Court’s (ConCourt) ruling on the date of local government elections.
The briefing will take place as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will brief the nation on its way forward.
This follows the apex court decision on Friday dismissing the IEC’s application to postpone the 27 October local government elections to next year.
The ConCourt further instructed the IEC to hold a special voter registration weekend – the date of which must be announced within three days of the order which was handed down on Friday.
“The Commission must, within three calendar days after the date of this order, determine whether it is practically possible to hold a voter registration weekend with a view of registering new voters and changing registered voters’ particulars on the national voters’ roll in time for local government elections to be held on any day in the period from Wednesday, 27 October 2021 to Monday, 1 November 2021 (both dates inclusive),” the court order reads.
The IEC met over the weekend to chart the way forward in line with order to make announcements on the electoral programme.
Yesterday, IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela would not be drawn into commenting on the electoral body’s meeting over the weekend.
Kate said the electoral body would held a press briefing today to elaborate on the outcomes of their discussions to deal with matters related to the court judgement.
Meanwhile, parliament’s spokesperson Molotho Mothapo said the National Assembly Programme Committee will meet on Monday.
Institute for Election Management Services executive chairperson Terry Tselane said the court’s ruling came as no surprise.
Tselane said he was always of the view that the ConCourt was unlikely to agree to the postponement of the elections.
The IEC’s application was based on the report by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke which found that it would be impossible to hold free and fair elections by 27 October 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tselane said it was not sufficient enough to submit the report based on Moseneke’s findings as the IEC should have done more to find reasons related to the commission.
“That report, on its own, is a very valid report and I think thoroughly researched. The IEC could have easily gone to Parliament and tried to persuade Parliamentarians to help them postpone the elections, but instead they decided to go to the Constitutional Court,” Tselane said.
In his opening remarks to the ANC’s three-day national executive committee lekgotla on Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the ruling party will campaign with limited resources during this year’s elections.
“The Constitutional Court has confirmed that we will have local government elections on a date between 27 October and 1 November 2021. The movement will have to conduct the campaign and mobilise under pandemic conditions and with limited resources,” said Ramaphosa.
“We must ensure that we use technology and innovative methods that will reach millions of members and supporters in safe and dynamic ways in line with Covid regulations.”
DA leader John Steenhuisen welcomed the ruling and said the opposition is well on track in its preparations. “For the first time we have registered a candidate in every single ward in the country, our lists are submitted and our deposits paid.”
Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said the ruling is a victory for the Constitution and democracy. “The Constitutional Court ruling once again gave the country the assurance that nobody is above the Constitution and the rule of Law.”
IFP National Spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the party has been making preparations for the upcoming LGE, among others, by ensuring that the party adhered to the existing IEC timeline and by meeting all deadlines.
“We would also like to echo our suggestion that the election be spread over three days, to limit the number of people at the polls, and limit the possibility of the voting process causing super-spreader events, particularly in Covid-19 hotspots,” Hlengwa said.
But, Tselane said hosting the elections over a three day period will not be possible as it is stated in the Constitution that elections take place in a one day period.