PRETORIA – There is no consideration by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to postpone the upcoming 2016 municipal elections, vice chairperson Terry Tselane said on Monday.
“I must indicate here that from the side of the commission, there has never been a consideration to postpone the election. That question has never arisen and it will not arise,” Tselane told reporters at a briefing in Pretoria.
“We are confident that we will be able to deal with all the issues that we are supposed to be dealing with. We will then be able to deliver the elections with constitutionally stipulated period. That is important … because there is a narration saying otherwise, particularly in the media.”
IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said the electoral commission was filing an urgent Constitutional Court appeal against the Electoral Court order postponing the Tlokwe by-elections in the North West province.
Mashinini said that at a national scale the Electoral Court order had created a number of uncertainties.
“The commission deliberated on the Electoral Court order of last week in conjunction with the Constitutional Court ruling of November 30, 2015. A number of uncertainties have arisen following the differences in interpretation of the Constitutional Court ruling,” said Mashinini .
He said it was unclear now whether the lack of an address on the voters roll invalidated that particular voter.
“The commission believes that an appeal to the Constitutional Court will serve to provide the necessary clarity and certainly regarding its original ruling and the obligations of the Electoral Commission,” said Mashinini.
“At the same time, the commission yesterday (Sunday) resolved to embark on a variety of initiatives to update and enhance the entire voters roll with the addresses and/or location of voters where possible.”
He said the IEC believed it would be unacceptable to disenfranchise a voter on the basis of a lack of a formal address – in a country where there are millions of people living in informal settlements and in rural communities without fixed permanent street addresses.
The South African voters roll comprises approximately 25 million voters. Around 8,7 million have full conventional addresses, approximately eight million have partial addresses and around eight million do not have conventional address details listed.
Mashinini said the electoral body resolved this week “to do everything in its power” to encourage all voters to update their details on the voters roll ahead of the 2016 municipal polls.
Interventions include contacting all registered voters with no given addresses, conducting targeted door-to-door campaigns for the voters without addresses on the roll and investigating alternative sources of address information for the voters.
“These measures will be followed by a general communications campaign to inform registered voters of the address situation and appeal to all registered voters to use the upcoming registration weekend to verify and update their registration details,” he said.
Voting stations will be open this weekend between 8am and 5am for eligible voters to register, re-register and to update their address details.
Last week the Electoral Court ordered that the IEC postpone the by-elections of the Tlokwe municipality for a period of six weeks.
“The certification of the voters’ roll which is the subject matter of this case is set aside. The first respondent [IEC] is ordered to provide all candidates in the Tlokwe municipal by-elections with a copy or a segment of the voters’ roll to be used in their respective wards in the municipal by-elections, including the addresses of all voters, where these addresses are available,” the court had ordered.