South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has been reprimanded for being too slow in conducting a proper registration of all voters since 2003 as large number of people might fall off from its voter’s roll.
It was revealed at the constitutional Court yesterday that if the ConCourt does not reverse the Electoral Court’s finding that all registered voters had to have a traceable address, more than 12 million people would have to be removed from the voter’s roll.
The constitutional and legal ramifications of postponing the Tlokwe municipality by-elections because of a defective voters’ roll “imperilled” local government elections, due to be held countrywide on August 3, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) submitted to the ConCourt yesterday.
According to Wim Trengove, the effect of the Electoral Court’s judgment in Kham and Others meant the IEC would have to obtain the addresses of all 25.6 million registered voters who have physical addresses, regardless of when they were registered and remove from the voters’ roll all the voters whose addresses are not on the roll. He further argued that if IEC fails to do this, voters’ roll would be termed invalid.
While the DA, six independent candidates and others are hoping the court will rule the IEC had better get a move on in registering the possibly more than 12 million voters who do not have addresses registered against their name, IEC, ANC and department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs are hopeful that the Electoral Court’s finding would be urgently overturned.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has urged parties involved in the IEC case to reach an agreement about whether voters’ addresses are necessary for the upcoming election.
IEC said it’s impossible to verify the addresses of 12 million voters in such a short time, warning it could take at least three years to do so.
“The notion of 12 million registered voters being deprived of their right to vote is unthinkable,” Trengove said. But Mogoeng suggested that StatsSA become involved in supplying manpower for the registration saying IEC has to perform its job o ensure all eligible persons are included in the voter’s roll.
The Inkatha Freedom Party suggested voting continues with the irregular voters’ roll, “but that the machinery of the voting process, can be adequately used as a mechanism to regularize the non-compliant voters who wish to participate in the voting process”.
It is however unclear when the Constitutional Court will be dishing out its final judgement on this issue as it yesterday, reserved judgment in the IEC’s application for leave to appeal the ruling.