The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has adopted the final report of former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke’s inquiry into the feasibility of holding this year’s local government elections, scheduled for 27 October 2021.
The commission will approach the courts to seek judicial authorisation to conduct the polls outside of the constitutionally prescribed time periods.
“The commission accepts the rationale and the central thesis of the report that greater immunity through mass vaccination is a desirable precondition for a safe, free and fair election to be realised,” said the chairperson of the IEC, Glen Mashinini, at a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday.
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Mashinini said the IEC would urgently brief its lawyers to launch an application either at the Electoral Court or the Constitutional Court.
On Tuesday, Moseneke’s inquiry into the feasibility of holding local government elections this year found that the elections would likely not be free and fair.
Moseneke said between now and the scheduled elections there would not be enough time for either the IEC or political parties to prepare for elections and campaign fairly and freely in the midst of a Covid-19 lockdown.
He recommended the polls be held no later than the end of February 2022.
No timeframes on postponement
Mashinini said the IEC could not provide dates on when the elections could likely be held. He said the commission would wait for the court’s decision on the postponement before making an announcement.
He said they would continue to consult stakeholders, including political parties and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on the inquiry’s report.
“We are now making approaches and in that process, we are still working with our senior council… It would not be appropriate for me to preempt what then would be the advice because we still have to engage the administration, where they would then indicate the feasibility of the recommendations.
“Some of the recommendations were quite clear that they may be low-hanging fruits, but there are others that have got intricate questions and considerations that we need to make. So, at this stage, we are happy to indicate that this is the intent and that’s the direction that we are taking,” Mashinini said.
The IEC will also postpone the upcoming voter registration weekend scheduled for 31 July and 1 August. The new dates for the voter registration weekend will be announced at a later date.
Eligible voters were reminded that the online registration facility would continue to operate for citizens who want to register for the elections or update their existing registration details.