Checks and balances on IEC’s voters’ roll for 2019 elections

DA Tlokwe’s caucus leader, Hans-Jurie Moolman

In 2016, the Constitutional Court ordered the Electoral Commission to obtain and record all addresses on the national common voters’ roll that were reasonably available as at 31 December 2003, by 30 June 2018.

Unfortunately, the deadline has passed and the IEC still has to verify the addresses of about 1.2 million voters and has asked for an extension.

Hans-Jurie Moolman was the legal representative of the independent candidates who assisted in the ground-breaking oversight of the administration of elections in 2016. He says ‘the IEC’s duty to comply with the requirement was suspended until June this year, resulting in the 2016 local government election being run on the previously defective voters’ roll.’

He says the IEC recently approached the Constitutional Court on an urgent basis to extend the suspension of having to comply with the abovementioned order of 2016 to November 2019.

‘Their argument was that they had made some progress to date but had not managed to secure all the missing addresses. The DA, IFP and two of the former Tlokwe independents, namely Pasela Mohlope and Johanna Xaba opposed the application,’ he said.

Another election would have to be conducted on a defective voters’ roll

‘We opposed the application because the relief that the IEC sought would mean that another election would have to be conducted on a defective voters’ roll. The court has already found that this roll was not conducive to free and fair elections. We were also of the view that there is still enough time between now and the general elections to collect the missing addresses. If the court were to grant the order, it would mean that the IEC was pre-emptively indemnified from the challenges of parties during or after the 2019 elections.

‘We also brought to the court’s attention to the fact that the IEC used a two-envelope system in the local government elections. This enabled them to collect missing addresses on the day but also prevented parties from objecting when the votes were counted or after the elections. We were concerned that the IEC had failed to present this method as an alternative to having no checks and balances in place during the elections.

‘Judgment in the matter has been reserved but we are fairly confident that we have satisfied the court that the relief should not be granted. We are also confident that the Constitutional Court will compel the IEC to make use of the two envelope system in the coming elections,’ he said.

Moolman says the greatest moment in the recent hearing was when Justice Edwin Cameron, who was the presiding judge, personally thanked the independents for their valuable contribution in the whole case since its inception and welcomed them on behalf of the Constitutional Court.

When Mmusi Maimane, the DA leader visited Potchefstroom two years ago, he said ‘It was the independent candidates in these wards – ordinary citizens – who took the IEC to court…this city has taught South Africans around the country about protecting democracy.’

The whole legitimacy of the 2019 elections is at stake
Prof. André Duvenhage, a political analyst from NWU also set out the implications of having missing addresses. He says the legitimacy of the whole 2019 election is at stake.

‘We would like to have free and fair elections and, in order to do so, all the voters’ addresses must be verified or else we will be in trouble. We cannot have a Tlokwe situation at a national level where voters were bussed in from the Free State to vote in Potchefstroom,’ he said.

In commenting on the challenges the IEC faces, Duvenhage doubts its capacity to verify the addresses. ‘There are a lot of administration challenges,’ he says. The other challenge is that there are between three million and seven million illegal immigrants in South Africa.

 

  AUTHOR
Selogile Leshage
Journalist

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