IEC will be 'technically ready' for elections even if vote is not postponed
The SA Electoral Commission (IEC) says it will be “technically in a position" to hold local government elections should the Constitutional Court not rule in its favour.
The commission is asking the highest court in the land to postpone the polls, currently promulgated for October 27, to February next year so they can be free and fair in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo said on Tuesday: “The commission will technically be in a position to prepare an election, in other words, the commission will be in a position to secure voting stations, to print ballot papers, train staff and provide for all other requisites logistical material, that we will do, but that does not mean an election will then meet the constitutional standard of freeness and fairness, but for its part, the commission will meet its deadline should we not be successful in the ConCourt."
If the elections forge ahead, the commission said it would however be impossible to have a voter registration weekend which has already been postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping through the country.
"If we have to proceed on October 27, then it will be basis of the voters' roll as it stood on August 3, when the minister proclaimed the election date," said Mamabolo.
The sentiments come hours after the commission’s deadline for political parties and independent candidates vying to compete in the polls to submit their nominations and prescribed election deposits.
Mamabolo praised the parties and candidates whom he said worked impressively hard to meet the commission's deadline.
"The lengths to which parties and independent candidates have gone to ensure compliance with obviously tight timeframes is remarkable and indicative of agility within our political system," he said.
A total of 59,272 candidates were captured to contest 10,285 seats in different municipal councils, including the metropolitan councils.
There are 276 political parties that submitted candidates, of which only two are contesting all 257 municipalities.
On the prescribed deposits, the commission said it had already received more than R5m.
“As at this morning the total election deposits paid amount to just over R7m. Some payments were made late last night through electronic funds transfer and these may take up to 48 hours to reflect in the bank account of the commission.”
The majority of parties were able to meet the IEC deadline, however a handful formally asked for more time, a request the commission would not consider, said Mamabolo.
On Friday August 27 the commission is expected to notify political parties of any non-compliance that may have arisen. “In this regard, contestants will have until Monday August 30 to correct the non-compliance.”
The final lists of candidates was expected to be certified and published on September 7.
"This date will mark the conclusion point of the candidate nomination process and the ballot paper production process will be able to commence. Certified candidates will be issued with certificates on September 13."
If the ConCourt rules in favour of the IEC, the process will be restarted.
“If we are successful in the ConCourt, indeed we will have to publish a new election timetable and there will have to be a new candidate nomination closing date together with other processes.”
The commission said it was eagerly awaiting the decision of the apex court.
“In our papers, we requested the ConCourt to look at a time [for a decision] not beyond August 31," said Mamabolo.