ROAD TO LOCAL ELECTIONS

Moseneke report: Elections should be delayed until no later than February 2022

By Suné Payne 20 July 2021
Caption
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. (Photo: Joyrene Kramer)

The scheduled 27 October local government elections could not be free and fair due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, according to former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, who released a report on Tuesday as requested by the Independent Electoral Commission.

Suné Payne

On Tuesday, 20 July, Moseneke and the commission (IEC) briefed the media in Centurion as they released the results of a report which sought to investigate the feasibility of a free and fair election, due to be held on 27 October. 

The IEC said it would be studying the report, and a consultation process with political party liaison committees is ongoing. It would make an announcement on the way forward in the next few days. 

In May, Moseneke was asked by the IEC to lead an inquiry into whether conditions would be conducive to holding free and fair elections. Political parties including the Economic Freedom Fighters and Inkatha Freedom Party have called for a postponement of the municipal elections. They were due to be held on Wednesday, 27 October, but this has not been formally proclaimed yet by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. 

During public hearings in July there was a stark division between political parties over whether the elections should go ahead. Read Daily Maverick’s report here: 

Stark divisions exposed in Moseneke hearings on whether October polls should go ahead

At the briefing, Moseneke said it was “not reasonably possible” and not likely that the polls could be free and fair. 

He recommended the elections be postponed until no later than February 2022. 

Moseneke raised several health concerns: low vaccination rates, a possible fourth wave expected at the end of the year, and the risks associated with large political gatherings while campaigning. 

He pointed out that the IEC had approached the Electoral Court eight times between May 2020 and June 2020 for a postponement of by-elections. The most recent one, which was due to be held on Wednesday, 30 June, was postponed as the IEC felt it could not be held under free and fair circumstances due to Alert Level 4 regulations

Other issues raised during the investigation, Moseneke concluded, were that there would be an unequal footing with bigger parties being able to use platforms such as social media effectively during shifts to online campaigning, while smaller parties could not do so. 

Moseneke reiterated that the IEC retains the right to hold the elections on its chosen date. 

“We know that everyone was working under extreme pressure” added IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini as he thanked all those who worked on the report. He said Moseneke’s report was completed within 61 days and sent one day before it was due.  

The report would be uploaded to the IEC’s website later on Tuesday. DM

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