IEC slips into gear despite hoping for ConCourt postponement

PHOTO: IEC South Africa

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has promised to deliver the October local government election but it fears the polls may not be free and fair if political parties are unable to make proper pre-election preparations.

The Citizen reports, a total of 276 political parties submitted their candidates, of which two will contest in all the 257 municipalities in the country.

A total of 10 285 municipal council seats were being contested in the election.

According to the Tuesday preliminary capturing of candidates, independents participating in the polls had increased from 855 in 2016 to 944 now.

IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo was concerned about political parties who would not be able to undertake their pre-election tasks such as campaigning, due to time constraints in the run-up to the 27 October poll date.

He said even if the IEC was up to its own task, it would be rendered useless by constrained activities of parties.

However, he stressed that the commission would technically be in a position to prepare for the elections, including securing voting stations, printing ballot papers, training of staff and provision for all requisite logistical material for the October date.

But “that does not mean an election will then meet the constitutional standard of freeness and fairness”.

“For its part, the IEC will meet its deadline should we not be successful in the Constitutional Court,” Mamabolo said.

Parties rushed to submit their candidates by Monday’s deadline of 9pm, which was a four-hour extension from the initial 5pm.

Most of the parties complained about hiccups they encountered in working with the unfamiliar online nomination system.

Many requested to be given a two-day extension to be able to make corrections and to submit supplementary lists of candidates, something the IEC declined.

However, the commission could still consider the request. The IEC applied to the Constitutional Court to postpone the elections until February next year.

The ConCourt was requested to deliver judgment by 31 August and Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo agreed in principle that the court would “not take longer than was necessary” to deliver.

The Citizen/Eric Naki