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DA files Constitutional Court bid to halt reopening of election candidate nominations

08 September 2021 - 07:29 By Franny Rabkin
The DA is challenging the IEC's decision to still allow political parties to register candidates for the upcoming local government elections.
The DA is challenging the IEC's decision to still allow political parties to register candidates for the upcoming local government elections.

The DA has urgently applied to the Constitutional Court to set aside the Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision to reopen the candidate nomination process for the 2021 local government elections.

In its court papers served late on Tuesday night, the DA said the decision by the IEC announced on Monday was unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid.

It was not permitted by the Constitutional Court’s order last week, which only allowed amendments to the election timetable that were a “reasonably necessary” consequence of a voter registration weekend, said the DA.

On Friday the ConCourt by majority refused to grant postponement of the election until February, as sought by the IEC. It ordered the election must happen on a date between Oct. 27 and November 1.

The highest court ordered the commission to determine whether it was possible to hold a voter registration weekend before then, adding that the election timetable already published remained applicable, with the commission to publish as soon as possible “such amendments to the current timetable as may be reasonably necessary”.

The DA’s Werner Horn said in an affidavit that the “obvious” meaning of reasonably necessary was amendments necessary to cater for the reopening of the voters’ roll due to the voter registration drive.

“It is not a licence to make amendment(s) that are unconnected to reopening the roll and which the commission already decided not to make. Yet that is what the commission has done,” he said.

Horn said in a meeting on Monday, the commission had sought to justify the reopening of the candidate nomination process “on the basis that the right to vote is linked to the right to stand as a candidate. It concluded that the wholesale reopening was necessitated by the duty to give effect to the right to stand as candidates which registered voters enjoy”.

However, Horn said reopening the candidate nomination process was not necessary to accommodate new voters who wanted to stand for office because political parties were aware from May that the voters’ roll would close on August 3. “Vitally”, said Horn, any prospective candidate was always able to register at a municipal office or online.

“If a political party failed to ensure its members registered as voters so they could stand as candidates, or prospective independent candidates failed to take advantage of that opportunity, they have only themselves to blame,” said Horn.

He said there was “absolutely no connection” between reopening the voters' roll and reopening candidate nomination.

The DA has also applied conditionally to the Electoral Court should the ConCourt not entertain its application.