Tlokwe candidates who claimed vote-rigging secure victory in top court

30 November 2015 - 13:45 By TMG Digital

The Constitutional Court has declared that by-elections held in seven wards of the Tlokwe municipality were not free and fair. The by-elections were held between August and December 2013.The case was brought by eight unsuccessful candidates‚ who had complained about voter registration processes including a delay in receiving the segments of the national voters’ roll which did not include residential addresses for any of the voters‚ rendering it difficult‚ if not impossible‚ for candidates to find‚ visit and canvass voters. They had initially complained to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Electoral Court‚ without success.The independent candidates were fired by the African National Congress (ANC) after they joined hands with opposition parties in 2012 to remove then ANC mayor Maphetle Maphetle.In an unanimous judgment written by Wallis AJ‚ the Constitutional Court “held that the process of electing councillors to public office is of cardinal importance for the healthy operation of our democracy at local government level. As such elections take place in wards‚ it is vitally important and a legal requirement for the chief electoral officer‚ when registering a voter on the voters’ roll‚ to register that voter in the voting district in which they are ordinarily resident. This requirement had not been observed by the IEC”.In addition‚ the obligation to provide all candidates with a copy of the relevant segment of the voters’ roll containing the addresses of voters in the ward with their addresses was also ignored.“That was a serious breach of the IEC’s statutory obligations‚” the Constitutional Court found. “Without voters’ addresses‚ the ability of candidates to canvass voters was significantly impaired.”The Court held that the constitutional right of the independent candidates to participate in the elections was impaired‚ adding: “It is essential to hold the IEC to the high standards that its constitutional duties impose upon it”.Seven of the eight candidates were granted leave to appeal‚ with the eighth being rejected.The court declared that the by-elections conducted in the Tlokwe Municipality on 12 September 2013 in ward 18 and on 10 December 2013 in wards 1‚ 4‚ 11‚ 12‚ 13 and 20‚ were not free and fair.The outcome of those by-elections was set aside and fresh by-elections are to be held.The court also declared that when registering a voter to vote in a particular voting district after the date of the order‚ the Electoral Commission is obliged to obtain sufficient particularity of the voter’s address to enable it to ensure that the voter is at the time of registration ordinarily resident in that voting district.It also declared that the Electoral Commission is obliged by the Electoral Act to provide all candidates in municipal elections a copy of the segment of the national voters’ roll‚ which must comply with certain criteria...

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