The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has moved for the postponement of by-elections amid level 3 lockdown restrictions that have curtailed political activities.
The commission has sought the Electoral Court’s approval to postpone by-elections scheduled for 20 January, 3 February and 17 February, arguing that the level 3 regulations will affect the freeness and fairness of the elections.
“The electoral commission noted that even though many of the preparations for the by-elections have been concluded, and protocols are in place for the safe conducting of elections as piloted in November and December, the regulations prohibiting political activities will seriously hamper campaigning by candidates and political parties.”
The court application seeks to extend the 90-day period within which by-elections of councillor vacancies must take place in six provinces, 10 municipalities and 14 wards.
The move to postpone followed consultations with political parties, during which all parties expressed support for the postponement.
While by-elections scheduled for 3 March currently remained on track, voter registration was scheduled for 23 January and 24 January and parties and candidates could be hindered from undertaking proper preparations for the registration weekend, argued the commission.
“The electoral commission will continue to monitor developments closely with regards to the restrictions and regulations with a view to whether to proceed or approach the court for a postponement of the 3 March by elections as well as the rescheduling any postponed by-elections as soon as possible.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the country this week, and he could either extend or amend lockdown regulations.
He said in an interview on Newzroom Afrika on Saturday that he was looking into ways to deal with the second wave.
“We are going to meet with out provinces as quickly as tomorrow and then we will make a determination on how best we move forward and at the right time, it will be announced to our people,” Ramaphosa said.
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde