The Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) maintains the reopening of election candidate registration process is in line with the Municipal Electoral Act.
The IEC briefed the media on Monday after the Constitutional Court dismissed its application to postpone the upcoming local government elections.
“In view of the fact that the voter registration weekend has been opened by the order of the court, a number of amendments to the electoral timetable are necessary. This is permitted by the Constitutional Court order which makes clear that the Commission is entitled to publish the amendments to the current timetable as may be reasonably necessary,” said IEC chairperson, Glen Mashinini.
He added: “This includes the need to set a new deadline for the new candidates nominations. The scheme of the Municipal Electoral Act is that the voter registration deadline is intended to proceed the candidates nomination deadline”.
This has thrown the African National Congress (ANC) a lifeline as it will now be allowed to register candidates in 93 municipalities that it had it failed to get in on time when the party missed the deadline to submit.
But the Democratic Alliance (DA) is having none of it and would stop the process if it gets its way.
The opposition party said it might be heading to court to challenge the IEC's decision, which the DA said is based on a wrong interpretation of the recent Constitutional Court judgment.
“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,” said DA federal chairperson, Hellen Zille, in a statement.
The DA said the IEC's decision gave the governing party an unfair advantage given that the Commission had previously refused to grant other parties an extension in past elections.
“This has never been granted before when other parties have requested leeway on an IEC deadline, resulting in the NFP’s total exclusion from the 2016 local election, and the IFP’s partial exclusion from certain wards in the 2011 election,” said Zille.
United Democratic Movement leader, Bantu Holomisa, whose party also missed the deadline, welcomed the reopening of the candidates registration process.