PRETORIA, South Africa – The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has put on hold the much-anticipated by-elections in all the wards in Tshwane pending the outcome of the court processes regarding the status of the metro.
Both the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court are yet to rule on the validity of the dissolution of council by the provincial executive.
In the meantime, the IEC will go ahead with plans to clear the backlog of all outstanding by-elections by November 11 in the 96 wards in 56 municipalities throughout the country.
IEC deputy chief electoral officer Masego Sheburi said that in respect to the situation in Tshwane there would be no by-elections due to the council dissolution, which was now a subject of judicial proceedings.
Following the council dissolution in March by the provincial executive, the DA challenged the decision at the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. However, the provincial executive launched an appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court.
Sheburi said: “The dissolution of the municipal council was set aside by the High Court. This order is now a subject of judicial proceedings in the Supreme Court of Appeal and in the Constitutional Court.
“The commission will abide by the decision of these judicial forums. For now the council remains competent and therefore there are no municipal-wide by-elections in Tshwane.”
The municipal elections were initially expected to take place on June 10, but the IEC asked for their postponement at the Electoral Court to avert the threat posed by coronavirus on the lives of the people.
The anticipation to host the elections was in line with the Constitution provision dictating that an administrator appointed to replace council must be in charge for 90 days.
The voters were expected to head to the polls after 90 days to elect new councillors.
Meanwhile, the IEC has given an assurance that it is ready to conduct by-elections elsewhere in the country with strict safety measures in place.
With more than 600000 registered voters expected to cast their ballots, the commission said the by-elections “will be held under strict new Covid-19 protocols aimed at ensuring the safety of voters, election staff, party agents, observers and other stakeholders”.
The safety measures included “implementing strict social distancing practices outside and inside voting stations along with the use of hand sanitisers as voters enter and exit the voting station. Voters, election staff and all those entering the voting station will be required to wear a mask at all times”. “Voters are also encouraged to bring their own pens to mark their ballot papers although pens will be provided and sanitised after each use,” the IEC said.