The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have called for the reopening of South Africa’s political space, after almost 12 months of restrictions, mainly due to Covid-19.
The party wants all political parties to be allowed to hold political gatherings, and physically attend municipal councils, legislatures and Parliament, while adhering to Covid-19 health protocols, to “hold government accountable”.
They said in a statement on Sunday morning that the country’s political space has been “restricted” as government officials “continue to engage in programmes that necessitate closer oversight and scrutiny.”
The EFF argued that workplaces such as mines and factories accommodate large groups of people, making the decision to restrict the political space “irrational”.
EFF Calls For The Opening Of Political Space In South Africa pic.twitter.com/n3MbMjk32E
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) February 21, 2021
They explained that to “disallow” political activity is “undemocratic” because parties cannot adequately prepare for the 2021 local government elections, scheduled to take place anywhere between August and November.
The EFF said the stagnation of the political space restricts campaigning for the elections, which “violates the essence of a democratic order.”
The party intends to write to President Cyril Ramaphosa “to demand the immediate reopening of the political space so that we are all allowed to engage in the necessary political programmes and activities to challenge the status quo.”
They wanted that if their demands are refused, additional steps will have to be taken, involving courts, to “challenge the Constitutionality of closing the political space”, while people are allowed to go to work, malls, restaurants and religious gatherings.
Covid-19 has impacted the work of the municipal demarcation board and the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).
IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said last year there would be a targeted registration and two voter registration weekends ahead of the local elections. There are around 23,200 voting districts in the country.
“(It is) not desirable to have an election in season of inclement weather. Similarly, avoid public holidays, school holidays and periods of examinations.
““Importantly, there has not, for this coming year, been any changes to the outer municipal boundaries ahead of next year’s elections.
“However, there are the usual changes to ward boundaries along with a number of outstanding or contested municipal provincial boundary disputes which may arise ahead of the municipal elections,” Mashinini said.
Compiled by Nica Richards