By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The ANC on Tuesday strongly denied allegations that it had influenced the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to reopen the candidate registration process for the upcoming local government elections.
"We made no comments about what should happen with the IEC. We only hoped that the IEC would take the legal and democratic decision," said ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.
Duarte was speaking during a media briefing at Luthuli House following the ANC’s three-day virtual national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla.
She dismissed claims made by some opposition parties, notably the Democratic Alliance (DA) and its federal council chair Helen Zille, that the IEC decided to reopen the process of submitting candidates "so that the ANC can fix its disastrous failure" to register candidates in more than 90 municipalities.
"We want to say that we reject the accusation being made that the ANC tried to influence the IEC or the Constitutional Court [ConCourt] in any way whatsoever. We did not and we cannot," Duarte said.
Duarte said they will oppose any court challenge to the decision by the IEC to reopen registration of candidates for the local government elections,set to take place at the end of October.
She said the ANC received no special treatment from the IEC whatsoever because they never lobbied the commission.
"We didn’t lobby at all. Our attitude was we will go to the PLC [ Party Liaison Committee] we’ll put our argument there, which we did.
"We took our argument where it mattered and that was in the PLC… we did not lobby and I want to insist on that."
Despite the ANC blaming the IEC’s candidate registration system for it having missed the commission’s initial deadline to submit names, Duarte admitted the party had "procrastinated" in submitting its candidates even though the IEC had extended the cut-off time by four hours.
"I think what is the problem is that people procrastinated too late and too long. And when they knew that they were given four more hours, they should have jumped faster and not hoped and prayed and waited until the last minute.
"We have another window now and we’re praying that no one will come with any excuse, "she said.
Duarte said the ANC was already working towards realising a successful election. She said the party was not anticipating an "easy ride" and would work hard to secure the majority of votes in most municipalities.
"Our ambition is to win all the metros, including the Cape Town metro," Duarte said.
She added that the ANC’s cash flow problems would not prevent the party from campaigning effectively.