ANC begs for 36 more hours as it stands to fumble power in 35 ...

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ANC begs for 36 more hours as it stands to fumble power in 35 councils

It could lose status as the ruling party or main opposition in 35 municipalities ‘without a single vote being cast’

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The Constitutional Court is hearing an urgent application by the Electoral Commission, which wants the local government elections postponed. File photo.
NO TIME TO WASTE The Constitutional Court is hearing an urgent application by the Electoral Commission, which wants the local government elections postponed. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell/Sunday Times

ANC wants to force the IEC to grant the party an additional 36 hours to finalise and submit its candidate list for the upcoming municipal elections.

This is contained in the affidavit deposed by the party’s deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, in the ANC’s application to the electoral court. It wants an order forcing the IEC to extend its electoral deadlines that expired last week.

The ANC failed last week to file a candidate list in 94 municipalities – and the party said it would be “severely impacted” if it weren’t allowed the extension in 35 of these.

The ANC blamed the failure on technical glitches on the IEC’s information technology systems used to upload lists of candidates.

The ANC’s failure to field candidates in the 94 municipalities scattered across the country means it may have to pay additional fees to field individual ward candidates in the affected areas.

The election is scheduled for October 27, but a Constitutional Court application to postpone the local government vote is pending.

“Ultimately, due to the pressures on the ANC’s systems and on the CNS system, the ANC has been unable to complete its submissions, which means it is missing ward candidates or PR [proportional representation] candidates that were not entered in time in 94 municipalities. In 35 municipalities the ANC is severely impacted and will lose the possibility of governing again where the ANC is in government and risks to lose its status as the main opposition party,” Duarte said, later adding that would be the case “without a single vote being cast”.  

In its court papers, the ANC also argues that should the electoral court not grant the additional requested hours, the party should at least be permitted to pay deposits that would allow it to field ward candidates in municipalities where it failed to submit a list of proportional representation candidates.

In terms of electoral laws, parties pay a package as a deposit to contest ward, local municipal and district council elections.

But the ANC’s failure to field candidates in the 94 municipalities scattered across SA means it may have to pay additional fees to field individual ward candidates in the affected areas.

The party now runs the risk of failing to contest for elections in hundreds of municipal wards should its court bid to pay an additional electoral deposit of R365,000 be unsuccessful.

“The ANC has paid the total applicable fee of R482,000 to contest all metropolitan council (R3,500), district council (R1,000), local council (R2,000) and ward elections in the 2021 local government elections. Parties that do not register for PR ballot but only for a ward have to pay an amount of R1,000 per ward.

“Because the ANC was unable to finalise its lists on the CNS system which led to the lack of PR lists being entered in time in some municipalities, the ANC would be required to pay additional individual ward candidate nominee fee of R1,000 per legitimately registered ward candidate. This amounts to about R365,000,” Duarte said

The elections, according to the ANC, would not be free and fair should the party not be granted additional time to finalise its list.

“ANC contends that the effects of lockdown regulations, imposed as a result of the pandemic, restricted its ability to properly prepare and finalise the candidate lists in the three weeks it was afforded. The lockdown restrictions meant that the very little time was in fact afforded for parties to fully and effectively prepare for elections,” she said.

The ANC argues that the timetable must be amended because the IEC in its recent Constitutional Court papers conceded that it was incapable of ensuring that the elections were free and fair under lockdown restrictions.

“Notwithstanding the concession, the commission persists with holding political parties and candidates to the election timetable it has published.

“In other words, the commission has all but lost hope in saving the situation but nonetheless compels political parties and candidates to adhere to the election timetable. I therefore contend that the election timetable as it stands, and given the prevailing circumstances, dooms not only political parties for failure but also the entire country. This blind mechanical following of the timetable is, under the circumstances, irrational,” Duarte said.

According to Duarte, 36 additional hours would not cause any harm to either the IEC or those contesting the elections.

“It is the ANC’s view that if it provided at least 36 hours to complete its submissions on the CNS system, this will not cause serious prejudice to the commission or any other party participating in the election nor will it seriously affect the commission’s ability to deliver 78-million ballots to 23,121 voting stations. The municipal election to be held on October 27 2021 would be unaffected by the minor extension of the deadline,” Duarte said.

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