Constitutional Court to hear case that will impact on local government elections

06 May 2016 - 16:20 By Ernest Mabuza

The Constitutional Court will on Monday hear an urgent application for leave to appeal concerning the obligation of the Electoral Commission of SA to furnish the addresses of registered voters to those contesting elections.The hearing comes after the Constitutional Court ruled in December last year that the by-elections held in Tlokwe held in were null and void.The candidates had complained that the voter registration and the subsequent voters’ roll compiled by commission were incorrect and inaccurate.By-elections postponed because of uncertainty over voters’ rollThe Electoral Commission announced on Monday that it has decided to postpone all by-elections – including those scheduled for this Wednesday – in the light of continued uncertainty regarding the validity of the voters’ roll where voters’ addresses are not in the possession of the commission. The candidates claimed these irregularities infringed on their right to a free and fair election.In its December judgment‚ the court ordered the commission to hold fresh by elections in February.On the eve of the February elections‚ independent candidates participating in those elections challenged the validity of the certified voters’ roll in the Electoral Court on the basis that it contained names of 4000 voters without addresses.The candidates claimed that the December court decision meant that the voters’ roll should have addresses of all voters where those addresses were objectively available.Tlokwe six not budgingA by-election in the small North West town of Tlokwe could end up disrupting the Independent Electoral Commission's plans for the 2016 local government elections. Based on the December’s Constitutional Court decision‚ the Electoral Court upheld the argument of the independent candidates and held that elections conducted in accordance with the challenged voters’ roll would not be free and fair.ConCourt declares Tlokwe polls null and voidThe Constitutional Court has ordered the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) to hold fresh by-elections in seven wards in the Tlokwe Municipality in the North West. As a result‚ the elections were postponed.In the application to be heard on Monday‚ the commission would argue that the Electoral Court’s interpretation of the December decision was wrong‚ and that the Electoral Commission was only obliged to furnish the voters’ addresses which it had in its possession.Further‚ it would argue that if the Electoral Court’s interpretation of the December judgment was correct‚ the result would be the disenfranchisement of some 12 million voters whose names would have to be removed from the roll for lack of addresses.IEC heads to court over need for an address on voters rollThe Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it needs clarity on whether the lack of an address on a voters’ roll invalidates that voters’ roll.  However‚ the independent candidates said the appeal should fail. They also argue that the commission would be able to obtain the addresses of all voters before the 2016 local government election by using the various governmental databases.While the ANC and the Minister of Cooperative Governance support the relief sought by the commission‚ the DA and IFP oppose the leave to appeal. 

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