Commission responds to ’deeply regrettable’ claims by the DA.
THE Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has rejected claims that its Constitutional Court application to have the local government elections postponed was a smokescreen for the ANC’s fear of voters.
Earlier this month, DA leader John Steenhuisen accused the commission of trying to help the governing party to evade electoral accountability.
IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini disputed Steenhuisen’s claims in the commission’s replying affidavit filed on Friday at the apex court, in response to several applications by political parties and non-profit organisations to intervene in its bid to have the municipal polls temporarily shelved until February next year.
”These remarks are deeply regrettable. The commission appointed a person of the highest integrity and standing in retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. It held a public, inclusive and rigorous process to determine the freeness and fairness of elections in October 2021,” Mashinini said.
He continued: “It approaches this court premised on Justice Moseneke’s findings and because of the genuinely difficult and unprecedented position confronting it and the country.
“There is no basis at all to suggest that the commission – and by implication Justice Moseneke – is doing the ANC’s bidding. Indeed, the DA appears to overlook the fact the ANC was initially opposed to a postponement of the local government elections,” he said.
The IEC has also defended its application, saying it does not want to violate or mischievously amend the Constitution, as claimed by the DA.
The ANC and the IFP support the commission’s application, although they want the polls postponed to no later than April and May, respectively.
Other political parties including the DA, the African Transformation Movement, the Forum 4 Service Delivery, which has 28 councillors in 13 municipalities, and the Makana Independent New Deal, are opposing the IEC in court.
All political parties represented in the national party liaison committee unanimously rejected the IEC’s timetable for the October 27 elections earlier this month, and expressed their concerns that they would be required to truncate processes that ordinarily take much longer.
Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell has also indicated that he will oppose the IEC’s application.
Mashinini’s affidavit read: ”The commission does not approach this court seeking leave to violate or mischievously amend the Constitution as suggested by some amici curiae (friends of the court) and intervening parties.
“Instead, the commission, recognising the conundrum it is facing, and its inability to comply with the competing demands, seeks guidance from this court on how to best accommodate these demands.”
The IEC told the apex court that it finds itself in a unprecedented predicament of meeting three constitutional demands – to hold regular elections, ensuring that they are free and fair, as well as ensuring that the polls are held in a manner that respects, protects, promotes and fulfils the constitutional rights to life, physical and psychological integrity and access to health.
Mashinini also reiterated the commission’s financial predicament after its budget for 2021/22 was cut by R175 million, forcing it to cancel of the two planned registration weekends.
According to Mashinini, the cost of procuring personal protective equipment for one voter registration weekend was over R40.1m and more than R89.2m for voting day.
The Constitutional Court will hear the IEC’s application on Friday.