Johannesburg – The ANC has withdrawn its application in the Electoral Court to reopen the registration process for its candidates for local government elections.
This emerged on Tuesday night night after the ruling party had gone to the electoral court after complaining of missing out on 35 municipalities if the process was not reopened.
The ANC had blamed the late filing and registration of their local government candidate lists to the Electoral Commission (IEC) on technical glitches experienced during the registration of candidates and the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is contained in the ANC’s application to the Electoral Court, asking the court to force the IEC to give other political parties in a similar situation more time to register more of their candidates.
The application came after the ANC failed to file candidates in 35 municipalities out of 257 municipal councils in the country.
In a formal affidavit, submitted on Tuesday, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte gave a detailed account of efforts made to persuade the ANC to give them more time to register candidates after the August 23 deadline.
Duarte said the United Democratic Movement (UDM) led by Bantu Holomisa had made a similar application but the IEC had turned the party down.
In her application, she said: “In the weeks leading up to the deadline for the registration of candidates on Monday, 23 August 2021, the ANC faced numerous difficulties to finalise and submit candidate lists.
“Over and above the challenges faced by the ANC in respect of its campaigning and electioneering initiatives because of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, it also faced technical difficulties when submitting the candidate lists on the CNS system,” Duarte said.
She said not even the extension of the cut-off registration time from 5pm to 9pm was able to assist them to register all their candidates.
According to Duarte, due to the technical glitches and Covid-19 restrictions, her party was unable to register candidates in 94 municipalities.
“This is due, among others, to the restrictions and bans on gatherings caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of alert levels 3 and 4 during the past four months.
“Furthermore, during the process of capturing the names and details of our candidates on the CNS system, our administrators experienced a number of technical challenges.
“A combination of all the factors caused the ANC to narrowly miss the extended deadline set by the commission at 9pm on August 23, 2021.
“But this could have been avoided if the ANC’s and other political parties’ concerns regarding the unreasonable truncated election timetable were addressed by the commission and the national political liaison committee,” Duarte argued.
She argued that their troubles worsened on the final registration day when the CNS system kicked out everybody and took some time to readmit users again. Duarte told the court that the system also froze on a number of occasions, “forcing users to log in again, losing valuable time”.
“Ultimately, due to the pressures on the ANC’s system and on the CNS system, the ANC has been unable to complete its submissions, which means it is missing ward candidates or PR candidates that were not entered on time in a total of 94 municipalities.
“In 35 municipalities, the ANC is severely impacted and will lose the possibility of governing again where the ANC is presently in government and risks losing its status as the main opposition party,” she argued.
According to Duarte, the ANC could be out of government in 13 of the affected municipalities without contesting and offering voters the choice to vote for the party because their candidates’ names were not submitted on time.
In nine municipalities, Duarte said, the ANC would lose its status as the governing party, without a vote being cast for it. In seven municipalities, the ANC would lose its status as the main opposition party.
Other parties such as the EFF, DA and Freedom Front Plus have indicated their intention to oppose the application in the Electoral Court.