It’s official Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has gazetted the local government elections for 27 October.
Cogta on Tuesday released the gazette signed by the minister.
“In terms of section 24 (2) of the Local government: Municipal structures act 1998 (act No 117 of 1998) I Nkosazana Dlamini Puma Minister for Cogta hereby call for election of all municipal councils and set for October 2021 as the date for such elections,” reads the gazette.
For now, this means that South Africa will go to the polls in October, despite former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke’s findings that the elections may be compromised due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We still must go ahead to call the elections and gazette the date… In gazetting the date, we are no way seeking to contradict the Inquiry’s conclusion or the IEC’s contemplated actions. We are just merely fulfilling our obligations,” said Dlamini-Zuma during a press briefing on Tuesday.
“Proclaiming the election date for 2021 would only be prohibited if there is a Court order postponing the elections to February 2022.”
Dlamini-Zuma said there was currently no court order excusing her from her constitutional and statutory obligations.
“If the Minister is forced to proclaim the election date before judgment by the Constitutional Court, she may explain that she has been advised to do so to fulfil her constitutional and statutory obligations. If the Court postpones the elections, the Minister would not have acted in contempt of Court.”
Moseneke’s inquiry into the feasibility of holding elections this year found that scheduled elections would likely not be free and fair.
This meant that the elections would more than likely have to be postponed to February 2022, which is the date Moseneke supported.
He added that between now and scheduled elections of October 27, 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 lockdown.
Moseneke concurred with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) that, in a state of disaster and lockdown, it would not be possible for voters and politicians to freely exercise their democratic rights.
“The commission approached the court eight times in the last five months to postpone by-elections and voter registration and all of these were granted by the electoral court. It is concluded that voters will stay away from the the polls as a result of the virus variants,” said Moseneke.
The commission had announced that it would “urgently study” the report and its recommendations before making the final decision.
As part of the process, the commission would also consult with key stakeholders including political parties via the Political Party Liaison Committee system as well as various state role players.
Dlamini-Zuma said the IEC would have to go to the Constitutional Court on an urgent basis, adding that should the Constitutional Court allows for the postponement, “of course we will abide.”