/ 27 August 2021

ANC heads to electoral court to get the IEC to reopen the local government registration list

The 54th National Conference Of The African National Congress Party (anc)
The ruling party had problems with submitting its list to the IEC, ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte told a media briefing on Thursday. (Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The ANC is heading to the electoral court to apply for an order that the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) reopen the registration of local government candidates for a day. 

The ruling party had problems with submitting its list to the IEC, ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte told a media briefing on Thursday. It needed more time to complete the process ahead of local government elections, currently set for October 27. 

The Mail & Guardian has previously reported on ANC branches complaining that the party system of selecting people for its council candidate lists at branch general meetings was flawed. 

This week, ANC branches aligned with the radical economic transformation (RET) faction in the party staged a sit-in at the KwaZulu-Natal provincial headquarters, Seme House, against the removal of a number of their preferred candidates from the list.

Some were removed in terms of the party’s step-aside regulations regarding people facing criminal charges, but in other cases the first choice nominees were not confirmed by the province’s list committee.

ANC members from ward 101 in Cato Manor said their choice for councillor, Siyabonga Mkhize, had received 309 votes at the nominations meeting. When Mkhize reported at the Moses Mabhida stadium to sign his nomination form, he found that Siyabonga Sibisi, the branch’s third-placed choice, who received 13 votes, had been chosen.

The news sparked the protest by members of about 10 branches.

Duarte said some of the difficulties were beyond the ANC’s control, citing Covid-19 restrictions which curtailed branch general meetings. She said 15 000 branch meetings and residents’ meetings had to be delayed until late July and some regions were still holding meetings on the weekend before the IEC registration list submissions deadline. 

“Our deadlines were very hard to meet, we faced numerous challenges and many candidates’ identity documents were rejected due to the absence of voter registration week,” Duarte said.

She added that the IEC’s electronic system kept freezing, resulting in about 30 candidates not being able to complete their registration.

The ANC had also found that people who had not previously voted — mostly young people — were selected by branches and residents but, because they were not registered, they were not in the IEC’s system, Duarte said.

She said the party had made a formal representation to the IEC to consider this  problem, but the electoral body was not receptive, forcing the ANC to opt for the legal route.

“That is really our prayer to the electoral court. We will present our application tomorrow morning and we await a response,” Duarte said.