ConCourt should dismiss DA’s case without a hearing: IEC

Electoral Commission says case is 'untenable in law' and 'premature on facts'

The commission was responding to the court challenge by the DA over its decision to re-open the candidate nomination process for the 2021 local government elections. File image.
The commission was responding to the court challenge by the DA over its decision to re-open the candidate nomination process for the 2021 local government elections. File image.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES/ALAISTER RUSSELL

The DA’s court case against the Electoral Commission (IEC) was an impermissible attempt to have the Constitutional Court “second-guess” the commission's decisions on how the election should be held — and this midway through the electoral process.

This is according to the commission in court papers on Wednesday.

The commission was responding to the court challenge by the DA over its decision to re-open the candidate nomination process for the 2021 local government elections.

The effect of the reopening decision, announced on Monday, gave the ANC a much-needed lifeline after it failed to nominate candidates for a large number of seats before the cut-off.

The reopening decision was made after an order from the ConCourt on Friday, which dismissed an application to postpone the elections to February. Instead, the court ordered the commission to consider whether a voter registration weekend was practically possible for an election that must be held between October 27 and November 1.

The court added that the current published election timetable would remain in place save for any “reasonably necessary” amendments.

It was on the basis of these “reasonably necessary” amendments that the commission reopened the candidate nomination process. But the DA went to court urgently on Tuesday, saying the commission’s decision was unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid.

Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced on Wednesday that the elections would take place on November 1.

The commission filed its notice to oppose on Wednesday and said it would file an answering affidavit, as directed by the ConCourt.

But in its short notice of opposition, it said the DA’s case was “untenable in law” and “premature on facts”. The commission added that the case amounted to “an impermissible attempt by a political party, involved in an election” to have the ConCourt “second-guess the decisions of the commission concerning the proper holding of the elections, midway through the electoral process”.

The DA had also failed to take account of the need to afford “appropriate respect” to the commission in making decisions in fulfilment of its constitutional duty to ensure free and fair elections, said the notice to oppose.

The commission agreed that the DA’s application should be considered directly and urgently by the highest court as “there is an urgent need for a final decision”. But it said the ConCourt should dismiss the application “without the need for a hearing”.

In the DA’s founding affidavit, the party's Werner Horn said the “obvious” meaning of “reasonably necessary” amendments in the ConCourt’s order was amendments necessary to cater for the reopening of the voters' roll due to the voter registration drive.

“It is not a licence to make amendment(s) that are unconnected to reopening the roll and which the commission already decided not to make. Yet that is what the commission has done,” Horn said.

TimesLIVE


subscribe