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DA will keep close tabs on local government elections

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it would monitor the upcoming election and would not hesitate to approach the Constitutional Court if another example of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) bending rules for the ANC emerges.

In its ruling on Monday, the Constitutional Court dismissed the DA application to declare the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s (IEC) decision to reopen candidate nominations for the Local Government Elections invalid and unlawful.

This follows the ANC’s failure to meet its first deadline, set for August 23, to submit its party lists and ward candidates in 20 municipalities and 598 wards countrywide.

DA Federal Council Chairperson Helen Zille said her party responded strongly to the IEC’s attempt to reopen candidate registration, arguing it was a clear attempt to bend the law to the ANC’s advantage.

The DA argued that while a voter registration weekend is necessary to ensure a free and fair election, reopening the candidate registration process would put the IEC at risk of bias in favour of the ruling party.

According to Zille, the DA considered this result inevitable, since the IEC had in the past disqualified other parties for missing deadlines, and the ruling  was at the time confirmed by the Electoral Court.

She said the Constitutional Court could not decide whether the IEC had an ulterior motive in reopening the nomination process based on the materials it had before it.

“Because of the urgency of the current proceedings and the fact that we did not hear oral debate, we do not reach a definitive judgment on whether the Commission’s decision is impeachable on the basis of a hidden motivation. If the DA or any other political party believes the elections in particular municipalities were not free and fair due to the Commission’s claimed bias in extending the candidate cut-off date, this judgment will not bar such challenges,” the judgment reads in part.

Since the IEC previously disqualified parties that did not meet deadlines, Zille argues it would be impossible to reopen voter registration or candidate registration if the elections weren’t postponed to 2022.

The DA notes that the IEC deliberately turned 180 degrees and subsequently made decisions in its favour, which undoubtedly benefit the ANC, despite its manifest failure to stick by the rules spelled out for all parties.

However, said Zille, the DA agreed that, since Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr.Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s previous announcement of August 3 was declared null and void, the election must be re-proclaimed, creating space for the IEC to reissue a timetable.

According to Zille, the DA has been waiting to contest every ward since the initial deadline.

“We are the only party with candidates in every ward around the country,” said Zille.

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