S.Africa adjusts local polls after delay bid fails
South Africa’s electoral commission on Monday unveiled a timeline for controversial local elections this year, days after the country’s top court ruled against its bid to postpone the poll to 2022 because of Covid.
outh Africa’s electoral commission on Monday unveiled a timeline for controversial local elections this year, days after the country’s top court ruled against its bid to postpone the poll to 2022 because of Covid.
The Electoral Commission (IEC) readjusted the schedule for the municipal vote, initially set for October 27, and extended the candidate registration process.
That decision is widely viewed as throwing a lifeline to the ruling African National Congress (ANC) after it failed to register hundreds of candidates before the August 23 deadline.
“The commission has already taken measures to ensure that it complies with the orders of the Constitutional Court,” IEC chairman Glen Mashinini told a televised press briefing, noting that the vote would take place by November 1.
“Amending the timetable to reopen (candidate) nominations is reasonably necessary in the circumstances,” he added.
The IEC in July filed a court application to postpone the election after an inquiry recommended a delay over concerns the Covid pandemic could undermine the vote’s fairness, particularly for smaller parties.
The ANC backed the request, which was vehemently opposed by its main rival, the Democratic Alliance (DA).
But on Friday the court dismissed the IEC application, ordering polls be held between October 27 and November 1.
Voter registration will take place over a weekend in mid-September, Mashinini said, after which an election date is to be fixed.
In power since South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994, the embattled ANC suffered an unprecedented drop in support during the last general vote in 2019.
Its finances are in dire straits and staff have been on strike for almost two weeks over unpaid salaries, which slowed candidate registration for the upcoming poll.
Participants in the upcoming vote will elect councillors for more than 250 municipalities across the country.
It will test the ANC’s popularity in the face of splintering factions and deadly unrest that followed the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma in July.
The party fared poorly in the last 2016 local polls, losing the administrative capital Pretoria and financial capital Johannesburg to the DA.