The judgement which was handed down on Monday follows an urgent application by the Democratic Alliance (DA), for direct access and an order seeking to declare the decision made by the IEC on 6 September 2021 to reopen the candidate nomination process in the 2021 Local Government Elections, unconstitutional, unlawful invalid and that it be set aside.
The Constitutional Court had previously dismissed an application by the IEC which sought an order to postpone the forthcoming municipal elections to February 2022. In terms of paragraph 5(a) of that order, the IEC was ordered to determine within three days thereof, whether it was practically possible to hold a voter registration weekend with a view to registering new voters and changing registered voters’ particulars on the national voters’ roll in time for the local government elections.
Dlamini Zuma’s spokesperson Lungi Mtshali said in a statement on Monday that the IEC had determined that it would be possible to hold a voter registration weekend during the weekend of 18 – 19 September 2021. However, in addition to this, the IEC also advised that it would be amending the election timetable to include the re-opening of the candidate nomination process as this was necessary as a consequence of holding a voter registration weekend.
“The minister, as one of the respondents in the application, filed an affidavit that addressed the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) incorrect interpretation of the Constitutional Court order dated 3 September 2021; the correct source of the IEC’s powers; the DA’s application countenance a breach of separation of powers and lastly the ambit of the order,” Mtshali said.
In a unanimous judgement decided without an oral hearing by the Court, it stated that the proper approach to interpretation involved a unitary exercise in which a court seeks to ascertain the meaning of a provision in light of the document as a whole and in context of admissible background evidence.
The Court held that the proper interpretation to paragraph 5(a) of the order envisaged an amendment to the timetable in respect of registering voters.
“We once again call on all eligible South Africans to exercise their democratic right and responsibility to vote during the 2021 Local Government Elections and to strengthen our democracy,” Mtshali said.