The decision of the Constitutional Court to go ahead with the local government elections this year has received the backing of the country’s political parties, but they have also called for the IEC to allow for a voter registration weekend after it had been cancelled at the end of July.
Following the decision of the Constitutional Court, most of the country’s political parties showed support of the court ruling that the elections should be held between October 27 and November 1.
DA leader John Steenhuisen welcomed the decision, saying that the ruling concurred with the interventions that they had made to the court.
“We got what we wanted, an election this year, between the 27th of October and the 1st of November, and we’ve got the Concourt pushing the IEC to host a voter registration weekend, so it couldn’t have been a better outcome for us, and we are delighted with the outcome.
“The court has ruled that we can have a free and fair election, and they’ve looked to international examples. Just two weeks ago, in Zambia, they had a free and fair election, and Mr Ramaphosa attended the inauguration of the new president,” Steenhuisen said.
He said that parties needed to adapt to the new normal and that the country could not subvert its democratic processes and the democratic rights of citizens because there was no telling how long Covid-19 was going to be around.
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said that they were fully prepared for an election on 27 October in any case but also called for a voter registration weekend for voters to be able to register.
“It is a pity that we had to get into this situation because it means that the Electoral Commission and the Minister (of Cogta) did not do their homework properly. If they planned, they could have had a weekend for registration, and it is a big sign for South Africa as a Constitutional democracy. It means the Concourt wants to comply with the Constitution,” Groenewald said.
IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said that they had complied with the IEC timelines because they understood that the court had the option to rule otherwise as it has happened, and as such, they are ready for the elections and were ready to campaign.
“We’re calling on our structures to now hit the ground running and go into these elections full force. We are going to have to be agile and apply the necessary flexibility to our campaign,” Hlengwa said.
Ganief Hendricks, Al Jama-ah leader, said that they were ready to head into the elections and contest and that they had already held three campaign meetings this week alone. EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said that the Concourt’s decision was sluggish but that they were ready and were going to contest in all the wards in the country.
“We must warn the IEC that it must not be tempted to open candidate registration. It must continue with the timetable, as it is. The only thing that would make this IEC look more credible is for it to open voter registration because that is the only thing that is going to make sure that there is proper participation by the citizens of this country,” Pambo said.
Pierre de Vos, constitutional law expert, said that the IEC’s application to the Concourt to postpone the elections was going to be an indirect amendment of the Constitution which a democratically elected parliament should do.
“The unelected judges shouldn’t really be asked to do so. So, in that sense, I am relieved that the court made the decision that it did. We’ll have to look at the reasons to see if these are good reasons, but in principle, it is a push back against people who want to implicate the court more and more into political decisions, and that is not in the legal realm,” De Vos said.
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