IEC row goes to apex court
There is much anticipation, though no certainty, that the Constitutional Court will this week consider the application by the DA to oppose the decision by the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) to reopen the nomination of party candidates, which will favour the ANC.
The DA says this decision is unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid.
No date for a hearing has been set and the court has so far called for affidavits and submissions. It still has to decide whether it will have an oral hearing on the matter.
The court has directed the IEC and ANC to file answering affidavits by midday on Monday. The ANC did this on Wednesday last week, the DA and other interested parties are to file a replying affidavit by Tuesday and the ANC and IEC will file written submissions by Wednesday.
The IEC’s view is that reopening registration is a necessary consequence of the decision by the Constitutional Court that local government elections must take place between October 27 and November 1, in line with the constitution’s requirement that an election must be held within 90 days of the end of the term of office for local government.
Since the last local government elections were held on August 3 2016, an election must be held by November 1 to comply with this provision. No provision is made in the constitution or in legislation for discretion to postpone the elections.
The IEC argues that the voter registration deadline must precede the candidate nomination deadline, but the DA argues that the two processes are distinct and that the ANC should not be given another chance to register its candidates. Voter registration is scheduled to take place on September 18 and 19.
The ANC’s failure to register all its candidates because of internal inefficiencies meant it did not register candidates in at least 93 municipalities.
The Constitutional Court dismissed the IEC’s application to have the elections postponed until February next year on the basis of a report by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke that holding them on October 27, as proclaimed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in April, posed the danger of transmission of Covid-19.
Co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has declared November 1 election day. Parliament goes into recess from Monday until November 1, so there will be no plenary sessions of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces during this period. Some committee meetings will, however, be held, and in the week ahead, the processing of the Second Special Appropriation Bill will continue.
The bill seeks to allocate R32.85bn to various departments for the 2021/2022 financial year to deal with the impact of the recent looting and destruction in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and the pandemic.
Of this amount, R26.7bn will go to the department of social development for the reintroduction of the R350 Covid-19 social relief of distress grant, which will last from August to end-March; R3.9bn to the SA Special Risks Insurance Association (Sasria) to enable it to pay claims arising from the unrest; R700m to the department of defence; R250m for the police; and R1.3bn to the department of trade, industry & competition for the support of small business.
The National Council of Provinces’ select committee on appropriations will receive a briefing on the bill on Wednesday by the National Treasury, Financial and Fiscal Commission and the Parliamentary Budget Office, and on Friday, will hold public hearings on the bill.
Sasria has told parliament the R3.9bn will not meet its needs to pay claims and to become sustainable and warned that if claims amount to R25bn, it will need R7.4bn more.