Opposition parties have welcomed the Constitutional Court’s decision to set aside the controversial by-elections results in Tlokwe, which it has found were not free and fair.
With few months left before the local government elections, the opposition parties have demanded that a transparent and open mechanism be put in place to safeguard the integrity of the elections.
The Constitutional Court on Monday set aside the by-elections conducted on September 12, 2013, in ward 18 and on December 10, 2013 in wards one, four, 11, 12, 13 and 20.
The case was reportedly brought by eight unsuccessful candidates, who had complained about the voter registration process, including a delay in receiving the segments of the national voter’s roll which did not include residential addresses for any of the voters, rendering it difficult, if not impossible for candidates to find, visit and canvas voters. The independent candidates included former ANC councilors expelled in July 2013 for participating in removing ANC mayor Maphetle Maphetle.
Congress of the People [Cope] said the Constitutional Court judgment has put the objectivity and impartiality of the Independent Electoral Commission into serious question.
“Candidates complained validly, but the IEC chose to ignore them to its cost. How could the IEC have conducted an election without finalising the voters’ roll and without issuing the respective segments of the national voters’ roll, to candidates, inclusive of the residential addresses of the voters of the contested wards? This is the most basic requirement for a ward election. Why also did the IEC not act at once on the complaints of irregularity that the aggrieved candidates raised immediately after the elections? Did it willfully sacrifice its objectivity for a sordid reason,” said Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem.
United Democratic Movement [UDM] leader Bantu Holomisa said the judgment would open the floodgates for the IEC, which needed to teach itself to listen.
“The IEC must stop being arrogant,” said Holomisa. He said it would be difficult to have free and fair elections unless the ANC removed all its deployees, including teachers, municipal managers and other senior officials within municipalities. “The commissioners are deployed by the ANC. You can’t expect a free and fair election. All those deployed by the ANC must be removed there,” said Holomisa.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema accused the IEC of colluding with the ANC to manipulate election results.
“The ANC does not win elections, it steals them. It stole elections in Gauteng [2014 national elections]. The elections in Gauteng were rigged,” said Malema.
He said he did not raise his concerns about the 2014 election results because he did not want to come across as a sore loser.
“I realised that people would be killed if we complained. Already, the government had sent soldiers in Alexander to deal with those who complained about the rigging of elections.”
He said his party was busy preparing party agents, which would be deployed in all polling stations across the country during the 2016 elections.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the ANC respects the Constitutional Court judgment.
“One of the things that we are known for except in the (Sudanese President Omar) al-Bashir matter, which was putting us between a rock and hard place, is to comply with court orders.
“Once the court makes a decision, we will comply. Our job is to campaign [and win elections] said Mantashe. The IEC said it was committed to implement the court orders, as soon as possible. The IEC said in a statement on Monday that it had already taken and implemented several policy initiatives including:
- To address political parties and candidates in respect of their responsibility to ensure that they adhere to the code of conduct and thus refrain from practices that violate provisions of the Electoral Act and the Municipal Electoral Act;
- To develop and disseminate materials to educate the public about the serious consequences of committing electoral fraud such as in providing false information in order to register in a voting district where you are not ordinarily resident and;
- To capture address details in advance of the proclamation date of an election to enable the candidates and political parties to object to persons that may not qualify to register in the voting district where they intend to register and vote. “The Commission recently met and determined that all certified voters’ rolls for elections provided to contestants must in future contain address details where available as per the requirements of the legislation.”
The Commission is also considering further measures governing elections to further reduce opportunities for irregular and fraudulent voting. These include possibly closing the voters’ roll for a ward immediately when a vacancy arises,” the IEC said.