Electoral Commission approaches Electoral Court for additional time for by-elections in Metsimaholo

The Electoral Commission has filed an application in the Electoral Court for an extension to hold by-elections for the dissolved municipality of Metsimaholo by the end of November 2017.

This date is outside of the Constitutional 90 day window period during which by-elections must be held.

The Electoral Commission asked for additional time to allow it to complete the updating and checking of the voters’ roll to include addresses for voters in the municipality’s 21wards and 59 voting districts.

This is in line with the Constitutional Court ruling of 14 June 2016 which ruled that the voters’ roll for all by-elections after the 2016 Municipal Elections must contain addresses for voters where available and must ensure that voters are placed in the correct ward and voting district.

Work is already underway in updating the voters’ roll for Metsimaholo including engaging with the municipality and providing all political parties with a copy of the previous voters’ roll and lists of voters without addresses for assistance in obtaining addresses and identifying any incorrectly registered voters.

Approximately 22 000 voters out of Metsimaholo’s approximately 78 000 registered voters (28 percent) do not have addresses captured on the voter’s roll currently.

Additional measures over the next three months will include conducting voter engagement and communication activities aimed at securing addresses for registered voters along with general registration initiatives ahead of the by-elections.

The Metsimaholo council was dissolved in terms of Section 139 (4) of the Constitution which provides for the dissolution of a municipal council where it fails in its legal obligation to approve a budget.

The Metsimaholo council failed to table a budget for the municipality for the 2017/18 financial year which was due on 30 June leading the Executive Council for the Free State to dissolve the council and appoint an administrator for 90 days.

Given the extremely closely contested 2016 Municipal Elections in this municipality and the imperative for free and fair elections, the Electoral Commission requires additional time to bring the relevant segment of the voters’ roll to the standard established by the Constitutional Court pertaining to voter addresses.

The Electoral Commission will await the decision of the Electoral Court and will issue further advisory communications to all stakeholders including political parties, candidates, voters and the media in due course.

Source: Government of South Africa