The ANC will oppose any court challenge to the decision by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to reopen registration of candidates for the local government elections, set to take place at the end of October.
The party has also rejected claims by the Democratic Alliance that it lobbied the IEC to adjust the timetable for the elections, previously scheduled for 27 October, in response to the Constitutional Court’s rejection of the electoral commission’s request to postpone the poll to next February.
The ANC had failed to meet the deadline for candidate registration for 359 ward and proportional representation candidates, affecting 35 municipalities. It was effectively thrown a lifeline by the IEC ruling that candidate registration would now take place after voter registration, set for 18 and 19 September.
The IEC’s interpretation of the court ruling has raised the ire of some opposition parties, which had stood to gain from the governing party being unable to field many of its candidates in a number of provinces, including North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Addressing a media briefing after the party’s three-day lekgotla, deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said the ANC rejected the accusations that it “tried to influence the IEC or the Constitutional Court in any way whatsoever”.
“We did not and cannot,” Duarte said.
“We understood and accepted the position that they emerged with: that you cannot reopen voter registration without the concomitant opening for enabling people to register as a candidate. Any person who registers as a voter is eligible to stand as a candidate.”
The ANC had withdrawn its application to the electoral court to reopen the deadline, because it had decided it would accept the outcome if the 359 candidates were not allowed to participate — not because it knew what the IEC decision would be, Duarte added.
The party had accepted that it might have to “live with”’ being unable to field the candidates and had thus decided to withdraw the electoral court application and wait for the IEC ruling.
Turning to the DA legal challenge, Duarte said the ANC would oppose any such action.
“Whatever legal action that is taken that is unproductive and negative for our democracy and our country, we will oppose,” she said, adding that the ANC was now in election mode, with its manifesto set to be drafted after final consultation with its alliance partners.
It would field candidates in all 4 861 wards around the country and had ambitions to take control of all the metros in the country, including the Cape Town metro, Duarte said.
Candidates and ANC volunteers would canvass door to door, as would other leaders of the party, which would not be holding rallies because of the Covid-19 regulations.
Duarte said the ANC was facing serious financial constraints and was looking at crowd funding, as well as other ways to raise money. It was also considering increasing membership fees and levies.
“We don’t have money,” she said.
The ANC was already busy resolving the internal disputes around candidate selection — one of the issues that had contributed to it missing the deadline — with a cut off now set at 11am on 10 September.
Duarte said the lekgotla had “noted”’ the release of former president Jacob Zuma on medical parole and was “happy” that he was back home with his family and receiving treatment.