No hint of early elections
President Cyril Ramaphosa met with the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) at Tuynhuys in Parliament on Wednesday to receive an update on preparations for the next elections “due in 2019”.
Rumours of early elections started in March, following an ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting that debated the possibility of bringing the national vote forward.
Ramaphosa’s meeting on Wednesday followed another one with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) earlier this month, a Presidency statement said on Wednesday.
“The IEC has used the meeting to update President Ramaphosa on preparations towards the sixth national and provincial elections, due in 2019,” spokesperson Khusela Diko said in the statement.
The meeting was attended by IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini, deputy chairperson Terry Tselane, chief executive officer Sy Mamabolo, and commissioners Janet Love and Reverend Bongani Finca.
The Presidency reaffirmed that Sections 49 and 108 of the Constitution directed the National Assembly and provincial legislatures to hold elections after a term of five years was served, within 90 days of the end of term.
Race to get electoral amendment bill tabled
“The last general elections were held on May 7 2014,” Diko continued.
“The IEC has indicated some of the areas that need to be addressed before the next election, including amongst them outstanding boundary disputes, the tabling of the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill and the capturing of outstanding addresses on the voters’ roll.”
Some of the desired amendments in the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, including the removal of red tape restricting mental health patients from voting, were under scrutiny, with time running out for key legislation to pass during the current term.
Parliament has indicated that no new bills tabled after May 31 will be considered for the remaining 12 months of the parliamentary term.
“The IEC is, nevertheless, confident of yet another successful, credible, free and fair election on the date to be proclaimed by the President,” the statement concluded.
“President Ramaphosa is encouraged by the work being done by the IEC and calls upon all South Africans to check their voter registration details, particularly their addresses on the voters roll, to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast their vote in the next election.”
Ramaphosa, however, has the power to bring the date forward, if he so wishes. Parliament, too, can force early elections if it passes a motion to dissolve the National Assembly.
‘The Constitution is clear’
Mashinini told journalists in Parliament on Wednesday that they were not making election plans around the possibility of the date being brought forward.
“I don’t know where the early elections question comes from,” he said in response to questions.
“We have a Constitution, and it is clear, as anybody can read: The term is a five-year-term and starts from the day a new government is elected.
“That term ends on May 8, 2019, and one minute past midnight, we as a commission, from a planning point of view, must be able to hold an election.”
Mashinini said Ramaphosa had not raised the issue of potential early elections in their preliminary meetings with him, and declined to speculate on whether the IEC would be ready if early elections were called.
“It would be irresponsible of me to raise any sensational speculation on this critical issue,” he said.
“We are working on the basis of the [normal] timetable.”
A total of 490 000 citizens were registered for the first time during the last registration weekend in March. — News 24.