There continues to be uncertainty as to when the local government elections will be held. This after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) intensified its bid to have the polls pushed back.
Following a meeting of its top leadership last week, the EFF has indicated that the party will write a letter to the Electoral Commission asking that the date for elections scheduled for later this year be pushed back.
Originally the party had proposed that local, provincial and national elections be merged and held in 2024.
Now it says it simply wants a postponement.
“If they don’t want to synchronise, at least they can postpone the elections. There was no political activity and you cannot have a free and fair election without an effective campaign,” says EFF leader, Julius Malema.
Malema’s addresses the postponement in the video below:
The EFF’s sentiments have found resonance with some political parties.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) National Spokesperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa says, “The IFP believes that there is not sufficient time for political parties to plan and the IEC to meaningfully prepare for these elections under the circumstances and of course, there is a shortcoming in so far as to the extent to which effective campaigning can take place. The IFP, therefore, proposes that the local government elections be postponed to the first quarter of 2022 to enable political parties, the IEC and the citizenry to prepare themselves.”
The Al Jamah-ah party is also sympathetic. “We cannot have free and fair elections and do proper campaigning because of the pandemic. So, we have agreed with the EFF and other parties that all options are on the table. Al Jamah has made a call to the minister of communications in parliament to turn around the post office so that voters can have the option of the postal vote. That was very successful in America to accommodate voters during the period of the pandemic,” says Al Jamah-ah Spokesperson, Shameemah Salie.
Others, however, have rejected the EFF’s proposal outright.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has indicated that it will not support any bid to get the local government elections, scheduled for later this year, postponed.
DA Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone has rejected the EFF proposal, saying, “Our Constitution is clear … what makes us a constitutional democracy is regular elections. The people of South Africa have the right to have their voices heard. We have seen countries across the world show that it is possible to hold mass elections while social distancing and maintaining safety. So, there is no reason why the local government elections cannot proceed in October 2021.”
Mazzone’s sentiments are echoed by Freedom Front Plus Leader, Pieter Groenewald.
“Service delivery in South Africa on the local government level is so poor that the electorate must have the opportunity to elect new councilors. Therefore, this year’s local government elections must take place.”
While the African National Congress (ANC) had previously indicated that it is amenable to the EFF’s suggestion, it did not mention any postponement of the local elections following last week’s meeting of its National Executive Committee.
ANC National Spokesperson, Pule Mabe, says the party must still mull over the idea.
“The ANC is quite concerned that under the current conditions, elections could be held. Of course, we are aware of what the EFF has raised. The ANC takes a view that it should take its own time in getting into some of those issues, especially understanding our own electoral system in the country and making sure that whatever ought to be done does not disrupt the delivery of services to our people.”
IEC CEO, Sy Mamabolo, says that the proposal will soon be processed.
“There are plans to convene a meeting as requested and at that meeting, the commission will avail itself to hear the views of political parties on the proposition to postpone. The commission will probably have to retreat and go and analyse those submissions and balance that against the constitutional principles and arrive at its own position independent of the positions of political parties, of course, the commission has to consider those submissions at arriving at a position.”