The IEC has announced that voter and candidate registration for the 2021 elections will be re-opened. This follows the Constitutional Court’s decision to not postpone local elections until next year.
The Constitutional Court ordered the IEC to keep the predetermined schedule for the 2021 municipal elections, which can’t be held later than 1 November 2021. In doing so, the IEC was ordered to determine if there was a possibility to hold a voter registration weekend and if possible, giving it room to make adjustments to the necessary timetables to allow for this.
According to the IEC, a registration weekend has been scheduled for the weekend of the 18th and 19th of September 2021. All voting stations will be open between 08:00 to 17:00 on both days for registrations.
The official election date is set to be proclaimed on 20 September 2021 with the recommended date being 1 November 2021.
Along with the voter’s registration re-opening, registration for party candidates has also been re-opened.
The IEC said that the voter registration deadline needs to precede the candidate deadline. Because a new deadline for voter nominations is now set, it follows that a new deadline for candidate registrations needs to be set. This deadline will be determined at a later stage but will follow the voter registration weekend.
The DA is opposed to re-opening candidate registrations, saying that the Constitutional Court order was clear in it’s discussions about voter registration, mainly because it was cancelled in July. This, the DA argued, would not extend to the candidate registrations, which had very clear deadlines.
The DA is planning on approaching its legal team to challenge the IEC’s decision to re-open candidate registrations, stating that it unduly benefits the ANC.
While the Constitutional Court judgment underscored the importance of a voter registration period, which we welcome, we strongly object to the use of the window to re-open candidate registration. The two are clearly distinct from each other. There had been no prior weekend dedicated to voter registration because this was cancelled in July due to the Covid spike. However, there was a clear deadline for candidate registration, which the ANC missed,” said DA federal chair Helen Zille.
Zille said the IEC had never before granted such a reprieve to other political parties that failed to meet deadlines. Other parties have requested leeway on an IEC deadline in the past; however, these bids failed and resulted in full or partial exclusion from elections.
“What we saw today gives the ANC an advantage that other parties have never enjoyed. It is a transparent strategy to benefit the ANC and would go some way to explaining why the ANC withdrew its appeal to the Electoral Court to have the candidate registration deadline lifted. The DA believes this manipulation was specifically precluded by the ConCourt’s judgment, for which we are very grateful, and we will seek to have it formally stopped. The IEC cannot be used by the governing party to do its bidding. The DA will not hesitate to fight the IEC and the ANC in their blatant attempts to manipulate our Constitution and our electoral processes,” Zille said.
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