The future of the municipality formerly known as Potchefstroom is uncertain because by-elections precipitated by the expulsion of 14 ANC councillors who supported the sacking of mayor Maphetle Maphetle are spread out over a protracted period.
Only three wards were contested yesterday, another six being delayed because of an Electoral Court ruling.
Six candidates who were disqualified by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) successfully challenged this disqualification in the Electoral Court.
Significantly, in its ruling the court ordered an investigation into the conduct of the IEC officials involved. One IEC official had already been suspended earlier in the week.
This may be more than a straw in the wind.
The IEC was in trouble with the Electoral Court earlier this year with the much delayed by-elections in ward 22, Abaqulusi municipality, KwaZulu-Natal.
In that instance there were claims that people from outside the ward were bussed in to register.
One disgruntled candidate is still threatening to go to the Constitutional Court.
Let us not forget Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s adverse findings last month against IEC chair Pansy Tlakula.
After investigating allegations of maladministration and corruption in the procurement of the Riverside Office Park in Centurion to accommodate the IEC’s head offices, Madonsela said Tlakula’s conduct was “irregular … and violated procurement rules”.
Bearing in mind that we are about six months away from national and provincial elections, it is troubling to see the IEC’s credibility assailed from so many different quarters. Potch is a sideshow but credible elections are a cornerstone of our democracy.