The date for local government elections has been gazetted, now what? 5 things you need to know
The proclamation of local government elections on Oct. 27 is not meant to contradict recommendations contained in the report by judge Dikgang Moseneke, co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Tuesday.
Briefing the media on the local government elections, Dlamini-Zuma said the proclamation would enable the Electoral Commission (IEC) to approach the Constitutional Court with a request for a postponement of the elections.
In May the IEC appointed Moseneke to investigate whether the elections would be free and fair if held later this year during the Covid-19 pandemic. In a report released last month, Moseneke recommended postponement of the elections to February next year.
Here are five important things to know from the minister’s address:
Municipalities will remain in governance until after the elections
Dlamini-Zuma said municipalities will remain in governance until new leadership is elected after the polls.
“The law says the municipal councils will continue to function until new ones are elected. This means that if the ConCourt allows the postponement, the councils will continue.”
Cogta acted on legal advice
The minister said the decision to gazette Oct. 27 as the date for the elections was advised by a legal expert.
“It was important for us to know what to do in light of judge Moseneke’s report. Legal counsel was very clear there is no order to postpone the elections. We don't have the powers to postpone the elections, and neither does the IEC.”
Apex court will decide
If the apex court agrees with the postponement of the elections, as proposed in the Moseneke report, the government will have no choice but to oblige, the minister said.
“We are waiting to hear whether the court will postpone the elections to next year. If the court does not agree, we have no other recourse because there is no legislation that gives us the right to postpone elections. If there was, we’d postpone them without going to court.”
Dlamini-Zuma said voter registration is closed until the date of the elections is announced.
“The voter registration weekend is a matter for the IEC. But it will not be able to open registration until the court decides. If the court postpones the election, the registration will be open. When the voters’ roll is sealed, it is sealed for all registrations, whether it is online or physically.”
Proclaiming the elections
The minister said Cogta did not proclaim the elections to contradict the Moseneke report, but to enable the IEC to request postponement.
“The IEC can’t request a postponement for an election that has not been proclaimed. The judge is recommending going to court because the judge cannot postpone elections. We are doing what we need to do in law.”