FF+ election-date application struck from roll

An urgent application to interdict President Kgalema Motlanthe from proclaiming the election date was struck off the roll in the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday.

The application, brought by the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) on behalf of expatriate Willem Richter, would not be heard by Judge Aubrey Ledwaba as he deemed it in ”contemptuous disregard” of court procedures.

”It’s struck from the roll and each party is to pay its own costs,” he said.

Ledwaba, who said he had not looked at the merits or demerits of the case, said he took issue with the applicant’s submission that the matter was urgent.

He said ”unreasonably short time” had been afforded to Motlanthe, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the minister of home affairs to submit affidavits.

”In my view it constitutes an abuse and disregard for the practice [of the court].”

Speaking outside the court, FF+ MP Willie Spies said Ledwaba’s ruling did not dampen the party’s spirits that the Constitutional Court would rule in favour of registered voters casting their ballots overseas.

”We all know that we succeeded with the main application, the important application [on Monday], which actually deals with the issue of the right of registered voters overseas to vote.”

The Pretoria High Court ruled on Monday that South Africans living abroad be allowed to vote in the upcoming general elections.

The court ruled that the Electoral Act ”limited” the casting of votes to people temporarily living abroad.

It referred the judgement to the Constitutional Court for confirmation.

”The Constitutional Court is able … to make sure that justice does prevail regardless of what has been decided here today,” said Spies.

The FF+ had applied to interdict the Presidency from proclaiming the election to give the Constitutional Court time to consider whether it would confirm Monday’s Pretoria High Court ruling.

Meanwhile, Constitutional law expert and University of South Africa Professor Shadrack Gutto said the Constitutional Court’s task in considering the ruling would be arduous one.

He said: ”It was an important application … political participation is central to constitutional provisions but the application comes very late and close to the election.”

Gutto added: ”It will create a real test for the Constitutional Court in the sense that elections cannot be delayed, the terms of office of the current government are prescribed and anything which will delay the process is something that the Constitutional Court will frown upon.”

Chief communications officer at the IEC Kate Bapela could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the South African Youth Forum Abroad, a global organisation of South Africans living abroad, has organised a protest rally against being excluded from voting.

The march will take place in London on March 14.

Joseph Mohajane, spokesperson of the Department of Home Affairs, told the Mail & Guardian Online that they would ”only comment on the issue once [they] have heard the position of the Constitutional Court”.

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