Good move or a waste of time? SA weighs in on IEC's plans for local government elections

05 August 2021 - 11:00
By unathi nkanjeni AND Unathi Nkanjeni
The IEC will approach the highest court in the land in a bid to postpone local government elections.
Image: THULANI MBELE The IEC will approach the highest court in the land in a bid to postpone local government elections.

The Electoral Commission's (IEC) progress with preparations for this year's local government elections has met with wide-ranging reactions online. 

On Wednesday, the commission detailed its plan after the proclamation of the elections by the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. 

The proclamation follows legally-sanctioned consultation processes between Dlamini-Zuma and the commission.

The IEC said the proclamation triggers the requirement for the commission to publish an election timetable. 

The election timetable spans 85 days and lays down the key dates and deadlines for various electoral milestones until Oct. 27.

TheIEC also made a legal bid to postpone the vote to February next year.

“The first legal consequence of the proclamation is to close the voters’ roll for the purposes of the election,” said the IEC.

“This means no new voters may be admitted to the voters’ roll for the proclaimed election date. This is inclusive of all forms of registration that is both physical as well as electronic registrations.”

The current voters’ roll stands at 25.7-million registered voters.

The IEC said the proclamation of the election date opened the candidate nomination process and this window period will conclude on Aug. 23.

During her briefing this week, Dlamini-Zuma said by law, the local government elections were still set for Oct. 27 until a court ordered otherwise.

“The minister is not empowered to postpone the elections to a date beyond 90 days after the expiry of the term of the municipal councils, as prescribed by section 159(2) of the constitution,” she said.

“What we say without any doubt is that the minister is bound to fulfil her constitutional and statutory obligations to timeously proclaim the election date for the elections.

“There is currently no court order that would excuse the minister from fulfilling her constitutional and statutory obligations. If the minister is forced to proclaim the election date before judgment by the Constitutional Court, she may explain that she has been advised to do so to fulfil her constitutional and statutory obligations.”

Dlamini-Zuma said in gazetting the date for the elections, the government was in no way seeking to contradict the Moseneke Inquiry's conclusion or the IEC’s contemplated actions.

On social media, many expressed different opinions on the IEC's progress on the preparations.