South Africa Extends Cut-Off to Register Election Candidates
(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission gave political parties more time to register candidates for upcoming local government elections, handing a lifeline to the ruling African National Congress, which risked ceding control over key towns after missing a previous deadline.
“The commission has taken advice on the matter and is of the view that amending the timetable to re-open nominations is reasonably necessary in the circumstances,” IEC Chairman Glen Mashinini said at a briefing Monday.
The decision follows last week’s ruling by the Constitutional Court that the vote must take place between Oct. 27 and Nov. 1, and that the voters’ roll must be reopened. The court didn’t specify whether candidate registration should also be extended leaving the IEC’s decision open to legal challenge.
Opposition parties including Democratic Alliance and the Inkatha Freedom Party said in emailed statements that they have briefed their lawyers to explore all available legal avenues to oppose the decision.
“The IEC cannot be used by the governing party to do its bidding,” the DA’s Federal Chairwoman Helen Zille said.
The ANC has been dogged by a shortage of funds and its staff have gone on strike because they haven’t been paid. The party blamed the IEC for its failure to register candidates in 93 municipalities, saying its computer systems had repeatedly malfunctioned.
Had the extension not been granted, the ANC risked losing power in about 35 local councils by default, including a number in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, one of its main strongholds. It also would have ceded control of the Tshwane metropolitan area, which includes the capital, Pretoria, to the opposition.
Africa’s oldest political movement, the ANC has ruled South Africa nationally since the nation’s first multiracial elections in 1994. It hemorrhaged support in the last municipal elections in 2016, a backlash against then-President Jacob Zuma’s scandal-marred rule, and lost control over the economic hub of Johannesburg and Tshwane. It has since regained power in Johannesburg.
- The Electoral Commission will hold a voter registration weekend on Sept. 18-19.
- The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will announce the election date on Sept. 20.
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