The top court of South Africa dismissed the Electoral Commission’s application to postpone local elections due on Oct. 27, court documents showed on Friday.
It is a blow to the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which supported a postponement and has struggled to register thousands of councillors expected to run in the municipal elections.
In 2016, the ANC faced its worst performance since sweeping to power in South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994, losing major cities such as Johannesburg to rival opposition parties.
The polls will test support for the ANC following a coronavirus outbreak and the worst civil unrest in years in July, sparked by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma after he failed to appear before an anti-corruption inquiry.
Pule Mabe told SABC that the ANC welcomes the judgment and will study it thoroughly before commenting further.
In a statement, the Electoral Commission said it will meet over the weekend to chart a course ahead and will announce the election program on Monday.
The court ruled that elections must be held between Oct. 27 and Nov. 1. Instead, the government had decided to hold elections on Oct. 27.
The commission must determine, within three days of the court order, whether it was “practically possible” to hold a voter registration weekend ahead of election day, the court ruled.