The Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) will move to postpone South Africa’s local government elections, originally set to be held in October 2021.
The commission cited the Moseneke report published earlier this week as a key factor behind the postponement, as well as concerns around the current Covid-19 pandemic.
In a media briefing on Friday (23 July), IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said that the commission unanimously accepted the report and will now urgently approach a competent court to have the elections postponed. This will have to be either through the Electoral Court or the Constitutional Court.
He said that consultation will be undertaken with National Treasury on the financial implications of the postponement, as well as with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs around other logistics.
Mashinini said a new date for voter registration will also be announced in due course, with all other election activities to continue until the court has made its decision.
The Moseneke report was overseen by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke who was asked to review the current conditions and if they are conducive to hold elections.
His team recommended that the elections be postponed from October as they would not be free and fair, but should not be held later than February 2022.
Moseneke said that there were specific concerns around the amount of time political parties will have to prepare for elections, as well as the ongoing Covid-19 situation in South Africa.
He said that the current timetable set for the registration of voters and all the processes around the announcement of the date of the elections, cannot reasonably be kept, given the uncertainty of the lockdown level and restrictions in place.
These restrictions, he said, could still be extended further when the latest deadline – 25 July – is reached.
Other specific issues which were identified include:
- Current lockdown restrictions impede gatherings that could be harmful to political parties;
- Gatherings for elections could undermine the country’s efforts to contain Covid-19 infections;
- South Africans are likely to stay away from the polls in large numbers due to concerns around Covid-19.