Constitutional Court Judgment: IEC v Mhlope & Others.
Today the Constitutional Court delivered a landmark judgment regarding the limits of the obligation of the Electoral Commission (IEC) to provide voters’ addresses on the voters’ roll to be used in elections. In what Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng described as ‘an exceptional case that cries out for an exceptional solution’, the ConCourt decided by a majority that the IEC had an obligation to obtain and reflect voters’ addresses on the voters’ roll; that the obligation only commenced in December 2003; and that the obligation applied prospectively only.
However, given the IEC’s indication that it would not be possible to collect the addresses of all the voters who registered after December 2003 in time for the general local government elections scheduled for 3 August 2016, as well as the ‘untramelled right’ of any registered voter to vote, the majority granted the IEC’s application for direct access and effectively exempted the IEC from the obligation to reflect such voters’ addresses as it currently does not have on the voters’ roll for purposes of the August 2016 elections, while also giving the IEC until 30 June 2018 to collect and reflect the outstanding addresses.
The IEC’s attorney, Moeti Kanyane of Gildenhuys Malatji Inc., remarks that the fact that three separate judgments which differed from each other on the interpretation of the Constitution and the applicable electoral laws were delivered in this case is reflective of the complexity of the issues involved. “It is also the first case of which I am aware in which the Court suspended a duty that flows from a constitutionally valid statutory provision in order to fashion an equitable remedy”, said Kanyane.
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Judgement Media Summary.