EFF statement on Constitutional Court outcomes on the voters roll and addresses
15 June 2016
The EFF welcomes the Constitutional Court judgment on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) application as to whether it is required to have a national common voters’ roll that has the addresses of registered voters for the purposes of the August 2016 local government elections.
The IEC wanted the court to give clarity as to date of effectiveness of its ruling on the Tlokwe by-elections on November 2015 judgement uin matters relating to the addresses of registered voters. In seeking this clarity, IEC wanted the court to direct as “to from when the addresses are to be recorded? And if they are unable to correct the voters’ roll before the elections are held, should the elections be postponed or proceeded with even if the voters’ roll is defective?”
In the majority judgment, the court held that “where such addresses are available” does not mean those addresses that the IEC chose to record, but rather addresses that are objectively available or ascertainable. The court found that the Electoral Act imposes an obligation on the IEC to record objectively available voters’ addresses with effect from 17 December 2003 and they have failed. The court made a determination that “the failure to compile a voters’ roll with available addresses is inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid”.
It is inconceivable that 13 years after the Electoral Act was promulgated, parliament and the Department of Home Affairs failed to hold IEC accountable on this obligation. It served the ruling party well that such an omission perpetuated its grip on power corruptly in a flawed voters’ roll for the subsequent elections of 2004, 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2014.
The sitting government in both national and local sphere was elected on the basis of constitutionally inconsistent voters’ roll and they can therefore not claim popular legitimacy.
EFF welcomes the court’s bid to avoid a constitutional crisis as there is no provision in the laws for postponement of elections by suspending the declaration of invalidity until 30 June 2018 so that the August 3 Local Government Elections should continue on the basis of the current status quo of a voters’ roll with incomplete addresses of registered voters, save for Tlokwe exception.
To do otherwise, the elections would have to be postponed to a time beyond June 2018, one thing the EFF would not agree with as every hour with this ruling party in the helm of affairs at local municipalities, is a time long perpetuating indignity of our people in the informal settlements, who, 22 years into democracy, have no dignity due to lack of access to quality water and sanitation, houses, electricity, land and basic amenities.
Notwithstanding that some of judges within the 11 judges differed with the majority judgment handed down, all 11 judges concurred that “the IEC’s failure to record the addresses on the voters’ roll, where available, was in breach of section 190 of the Constitution and that the Constitutional Court should not grant an order that allows the IEC to use a flawed voters’ roll in the by-elections as this would result in unfair elections.”
As we welcome this judgement, we call on all our people across all strands, length and breadth, to be extra ordinary vigilant towards the day of elections, on the elections day and the counting process after closure of voting. The inefficiency of IEC appears not to be out of the ordinary.
Our criticism of the IEC is not borne out of malice, but what the courts have vindicated us on that IEC is improperly being run by ANC deployed cadres who will miss no opportunity to bring the elections in this country into disrepute.
We call upon the Parliament to set up an adhoc Committee to process matters flowing from the judgement as a matter of urgency. The committee should also investigate the circumstances around the 13 years failure to comply with the Electoral Act by the Commission and failure of Parliament to pick up the red flag from the inept Portfolio Committees on Home Affairs ever since established from 2003. The Committee should also investigate and recommend appropriate sanctions against the Ministers of Home Affairs from the date the amendments on the Electoral Act came into effect on the compulsory addresses of registered voters.
Issued by Mbuyiseni Quintin Ndlozi, National Spokesperson, EFF, 15 June 2016