NEWS & ANALYSIS

IEC approaches Electoral Court for postponement of by-elections

Latest regulations curtail political activities imperiling the freeness and fairness of elections

Electoral Commission approaches Electoral Court for postponement of by-elections as second wave of COVID-19 sees political gatherings prohibited

The Electoral Commission has once again approached the Electoral Court to postpone by-elections following the implementation of COVID-19 level 3 lockdown restrictions which have re-introduced prohibitions on political activities.

The Electoral Commission is seeking the court’s approval to postpone by-elections scheduled for 20 January, 3 February and 17 February on the basis that the latest regulations curtail political activities imperiling the freeness and fairness of the elections.

The Electoral Commission noted that even though many of the preparations for the by-elections have been concluded, and protocols are in place for the safe conducting of elections as piloted in November and December, the regulations prohibiting political activities will seriously hamper campaigning by candidates and political parties.

The court application seeks to extend the 90-day period within which by-elections of councillor vacancies must take place for the following by-elections:

By-election date

Province

Municipality

Ward/s

Registered voters

20 January

Gauteng

EKU - Ekurhuleni

43

17 886

 

KwaZulu-Natal

KZN242 - Nqutu

11

5 742

 

Mpumalanga

MP325 - Bushbuckridge

21

6 609

3 February

Free State

FS194 - Maluti a Phofung

25

4 330

 

Gauteng

JHB - City of Johannesburg

7 & 17

37 953

 

Limpopo

LIM344 - Makhado

38

5 681

 

Limpopo

LIM476 - Fetakgomo Tubatse

13

6 451

17 February

Eastern Cape

EC441 - Matatiele

11

3 813

 

Gauteng

TSH - Tshwane Metro

3; 58; 88; 92

55 988

 

KwaZulu-Natal

ETH - eThekwini

110

19 291

Total:

6 provinces

10 municipalities

14 wards

163 744

The approach to the Electoral Court followed consultations with political parties via the National Party Liaison Committee during which all parties expressed support for the postponement.

By-elections scheduled for 3 March by-elections currently remain on track. However, the Commission notes that voter registration is scheduled for 23 to 24 January and parties and candidates may be hindered from undertaking proper preparations for the registration weekend given the current regulations which remains in place until at least 12 January.

The Electoral Commission will continue to monitor developments closely with regards to the restrictions and regulations with a view to whether to proceed or approach the court for a postponement of the 3 March by elections as well as the rescheduling any postponed by-elections as soon as possible.

Statement issued by Kate Bapela, IEC, 11 January 2021