IRR in Constitutional Court today to fight for the right to vote

20 August 2021 - Today, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) will be appearing in the Constitutional Court to fight for the right of South Africans to vote.

Today, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) will be appearing in the Constitutional Court to fight for the right of South Africans to vote.
 
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has asked the Constitutional Court to grant a postponement of the 2021 local government elections after former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke compiled a report which found that it would not be possible hold free and fair elections due to Covid-19.
 
But holding the elections later than 1 November would contravene Section 159 of the Constitution, which says that elections must be held within 90 days after the term of a municipal council expires – which it does after five years.
 
However, if the court finds that despite the clear requirements of Section 159, it has no other option but to grant a postponement – for example because the proclamation of the election date prematurely closed the voters roll – we then suggest that the court limits the extent to which the constitutional deadline is broken in a simple, practical way. We urge the court to instruct the IEC to hold staggered elections by provinces, individually or in clusters, as necessary, as was done in 1996 when KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape held their elections after the rest of the country.
 
If one province is suffering an infection spike at election time then the whole country cannot be expected to delay. That would further abrogate people’s fundamental right to regularly hold leaders to account.
 
The IRR’s proposal would make it possible to hold elections in the provinces where infection rates are low before the constitutional deadline of 1 November, and hold elections in the remaining provinces as close to 1 November as possible.
 
Your vote matters, and we are fighting for it.
 
Said Gabriel Crouse: “Stick to the constitutional deadline wherever you can. That is our call. We cannot allow the IEC to halt the process now, while cases (and vaccination rates) are dropping nationally, and then delay the whole process again as soon as a single province starts on the fourth wave. That would be a kiss of death to the South African project.”
 
Crouse added: “Every citizen has the right to confront leaders at the ballot box regularly. We urge the court to order the IEC to respect that right. We do so in a practical way, because democracy is not just an idea, it’s a thing we do, vote by vote, district by district, municipality by municipality, province by province, until we’ve all had a chance to tell those in charge what we really think of them.”
 
If you would like to support the IRR’s legal challenge to save your vote you can do so here: https://irr.org.za/campaigns/save-the-vote – or you can donate R10 by SMSing your name to 12345 (Ts & Cs apply. SMS costs R10).

 
Media contacts: Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns – 082 510 0360; gabriel@irr.org.za
Duwayne Esau, IRR Campaign Officer – 081 700 0302; duwayne@irr.org.za
 
Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za
Kelebogile Leepile Tel: 079 051 0073 Email: kelebogile@irr.org.za

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