Independent Electoral Commission chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Independent Electoral Commission chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The Constitutional Court will on Wednesday hear an application by the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) for an extension of its deadline to complete the voters roll.

The commission wants a further 18 months to conclude the critical work. The IEC did not meet the June deadline to update the voters roll by including addresses for all those on the roll. The top court ruled that the absence of this information was unconstitutional.

The IEC faces a tough road ahead if the court denies it an extension, with the worst case scenario being the removal of 1.3-million voters from the roll.

If its application is denied, the IEC will have to collect the addresses while it prepares for the critical 2019 elections.

In court papers, the IEC warned that should it not be granted an extension "there is a very real chance that parties dissatisfied with the 2019 electoral results will seek to challenge the outcome".

"Even if such challenges were ultimately to fail, this could ultimately imperil the credibility of the election results," it said.

According to the IEC’s application, the majority of the affected voters are in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. There are 26.2-million voters on the roll and if the 1.3-million are struck off, this could have a considerable effect on the outcome of the polls, it said.

The DA and the IFP are opposing the IEC’s application. The IFP has cautioned that an extension could open up the electoral process to fraud and manipulation of the voters roll.

The DA’s Mike Moriarty has argued in court papers that granting the IEC the extension could adversely affect the legitimacy of SA’s constitutional democracy. Moriarty is on the IEC’s party liaison committee.

He said the IEC’s application would not remedy the unconstitutionality of the voters roll, but rather it would "immunise" the IEC from potential court challenges against the poll results.

Meanwhile, parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs has recommended to the National Assembly that Mosotho Moepya, Judge Dhayanithie Pillay and Dr Nomsa Praisy Masuku be appointed to fill the vacancies on the IEC.

With Genevieve Quintal