KwaZulu-Natal Court to Hear Application to Postpone By-Elections

KZN COGTA seeks to postpone by-elections until after May 29 general elections, citing resource constraints for smaller parties. Court to decide on the urgent application, with implications for electoral fairness and integrity.

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Wojciech Zylm
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KwaZulu-Natal Court to Hear Application to Postpone By-Elections

KwaZulu-Natal Court to Hear Application to Postpone By-Elections

The Pietermaritzburg High Court is set to hear an urgent application by the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Bongi Sithole-Moloi, to postpone by-elections in the province until after the May 29 general elections. Sithole-Moloi filed papers with the court, arguing that political parties, especially smaller ones, do not have enough resources to simultaneously contest the by-elections and the general elections, which could compromise the fairness and integrity of the by-elections.

The application seeks to postpone all upcoming by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal, including those in Umzumbe, Newcastle, Uphongolo, and Mthonjaneni. According to the Municipal Structures Act, Sithole-Moloi should call for by-elections within 90 days of a municipal ward becoming vacant. However, she has not adhered to the time-frames due to the proximity of the by-elections to the general elections.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has informed Sithole-Moloi that the Municipal Structures Act does not allow for deferring by-elections beyond the 90-day period on the grounds of the elections not being free and fair. The IEC provincial electoral officer stated that the electoral body would not oppose Sithole-Moloi's application and would abide by the court ruling.

The African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal supported Sithole-Moloi's decision, stating that it would allow the IEC to focus on the upcoming general elections and not be sidetracked by by-elections. ActionSA's provincial chairperson, Zwakele Mncwango, said the party's focus is on the general elections and not the by-elections.

Why this matters: The outcome of this court case could impact the timing and conduct of by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal, which is a key battleground province in the upcoming general elections. It also raises questions about the balance between adhering to legal requirements for timely by-elections and ensuring fair and well-resourced electoral processes .

The Pietermaritzburg High Court is expected to hear Sithole-Moloi's urgent application this week. The IEC has stated that it will not oppose the application and will abide by the court's ruling. The decision could have implications for the timing of by-elections in several municipalities across KwaZulu-Natal, including Umzumbe, Newcastle, Uphongolo, and Mthonjaneni.

Key Takeaways

  • KZN COGTA seeks to postpone by-elections until after May 29 general elections
  • Argues smaller parties lack resources to contest both by-elections and general polls
  • IEC says Municipal Structures Act does not allow deferring by-elections beyond 90 days
  • ANC supports postponement, ActionSA focused on general elections, not by-elections
  • Pietermaritzburg High Court to rule on urgent application this week