Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) CEO Sy Mamabolo has outlined four points of contestation amongst political parties on whether it is possible to hold free and fair elections on October 27.

Mamabolo is presenting before retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

He is the first stakeholder to appear at the Moseneke Inquiry that is determining whether the country can hold free and fair elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Firstly, Mamabolo says that parties disagree on whether the poll can be legitimate if traditional modes of campaigning are not possible.

He says they also disagree on the level to which the public is mobilized to register for fear of catching the coronavirus.

A third concern is low voter turnout at the polls which may compromise the legitimacy of the elections.

Mamabolo says the fourth issue pertains to political parties’ own preparations.

“Parties are saying that given the current regulatory period arising from the Disaster Management Act they are unable to do their internal primaries so to speak the internal candidate selection processes because these processes generally involve community meeting, branch meeting, going up all the way to the national level of the party.”

Mamabolo said the commission must ensure that it not only holds local elections every five years as required by the Constitution but ensure that the polls reflect the will of the people.

He says that the IEC has not yet determined whether the polls of October 27 will be free and fair, hence the inquiry, however, he says it is working to prepare the technical aspects of it, should it go ahead.

“There is no binary choice between timeously holding the forthcoming elections and those elections being free and fair the constitutional impulse is for both to be met so the demands on the commission are in respect of both constitutional imperatives so in other words, you don’t hold elections for election’s sake indeed they have to be free and fair indeed they have to be free and fair otherwise an election for the sake of it will be a hollow exercise.”

In his introductory statement, Moseneke expressed satisfaction at the thousands of submissions received to date by the Inquiry. Moseneke says this week the Inquiry will hear oral submissions from selected groups it has invited.

“We have invited specific stakeholders particularly health scientists to help us understand where we are to help us project this disease through to October but also to tell us issues around vaccinations for instance at what point are we likely to reach citizen immunity so we have the privilege of hearing out these scientists this afternoon and later in the week.”

Justice Moseneke Inquiry: Part 1