Despite political gatherings being allowed under the country’s alert level 1 lockdown, the UDM has raised its concern about campaigning by political parties ahead of this year’s local government elections.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday evening larger gatherings will be permitted, but the maximum number of people allowed will only be 100 people indoors or 250 people outdoors.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa called for the postponement of the polls and wants the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to convene a meeting with all political parties to discuss their state of readiness to campaign.
“I don’t think 100 people or 250 people for rallies will be enough. It is going to be difficult to control that and that’s precisely why I’m saying the IEC should call a meeting of all stakeholders and in that meeting we should get a briefing from health experts and scientists to tell us between now and August – and possibly November – what kind of campaign must we embark upon,” Holomisa told eNCA on Sunday.
He said the politics of the country would be affected by the limited numbers at rallies, adding that some citizens might also stop political parties from door-to-door campaigning because of fears of contracting Covid-19.
“Let’s discuss this matter, maybe there might be some wise people who will guide the IEC and political parties on how to take this process of the local government elections forward for this year,” Holomisa said.
He said the party welcomed the new adjustments to the country’s lockdown regulations. However, he cautioned South Africans still needed to adhere to health and safety measures like wearing face masks, hand sanitising and social distancing to avoid the possibility of a third wave of Covid-19 infections.
Last week, the EFF called for parties to be allowed to hold political gatherings and to physically attend municipal councils, legislatures and Parliament, while adhering to Covid-19 health protocols, to “hold the government accountable”.
The EFF said the country’s political space had been “restricted” as government officials “continue to engage in programmes that necessitate closer oversight and scrutiny”.