Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma says she has no legal standing not to proclaim the date for the 2021 local government elections as October 27 until a court order says otherwise.
CO-OPERATIVE Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma says she has no legal standing not to proclaim the date for the 2021 local government elections as October 27 until a court order says otherwise.
Dlamini Zuma briefed the media on Tuesday regarding the local government elections and the extraordinary circumstances the government and the Independent Electoral Commission find themselves in.
The continued rise in coronavirus cases and the third wave had necessitated a need to assess whether elections could go ahead, and whether they would be free and fair.
Retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke’s report, released on July 20, recommended a postponement of elections to February 2021.
The report also recommended that the IEC approach the Constitutional Court to seek a postponement.
The report had been compiled following over 4,000 submissions from political parties and health experts on the dangers of holding an election during a pandemic.
The IEC had accepted the report and adopted it, saying it would approach the Constitutional Court to seek a postponement. The organisation also postponed the voter registration weekend which was scheduled for July 31 and August 1.
Dlamini Zuma said this week was set to be the week where she was legally bound to proclaim the election date.
She said after seeking legal opinion it was clear that she had no legal powers not to go ahead and proclaim the election day on Tuesday.
The proclamation of October 27 as the election date was gazetted on Tuesday and will result in the voters roll being sealed in the process.
“The minister is not empowered to postpone the elections to a date beyond 90 days after the expiry of the term of the municipal councils, as prescribed by section 159(2) of the Constitution,” the minister said.
“In gazetting the date, we are no way seeking to contradict the Inquiry’s conclusion or the IEC’s contemplated actions. We are just merely fulfilling our obligations.”
Dlamini Zuma said the IEC was legally bound to approach the Constitutional Court seeking the postponement, and her office must be cited as a respondent.
She said that at the moment there was no postponement of the elections until a court order stated so. Legally, only the Constitutional Court can provide for such relief.
Dlamini Zuma said it would have been difficult for the IEC to seek a postponement of an election that had yet to be proclaimed.
She said if the court grants the IEC relief for the postponement, the department would abide by the outcome.
On the future of municipal councils whose terms expire, Dlamini Zuma said legally those councils would continue to function if the court grants a postponement.
If the Constitutional Court does not grant the IEC an application postponing the elections, then the elections will have to go ahead on October 27.
– Political Bureau