Former Deputy Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke’s inquiry on Free and Fair Local Government Elections during the COVID-19 pandemic will kick off its public hearings on Monday.

The inquiry will hear oral submissions from the Electoral Commission, as well as representatives from the Health Department and health NGOs.

So far, 3 000  inputs have been submitted to the inquiry.

Public opinion regarding whether the October polls should go ahead is deeply divided. This will likely also be the case regarding the written and voice note submissions made to Justice Moseneke.

Public and various other stakeholders had until June 18, to make submissions. It will be up to the Inquiry to determine whether the conditions in South Africa can facilitate the holding of free and fair elections.

“As such, they key considerations cannot be whether the elections meet the timing prescripts, but whether they meet the prescripts of freeness and fairness. Section 14(4) provides a possibility that the commission may pblish A report on the likelihood that it will ensure any pending elections will be free and fair,” says Moseneke.

The week-long inquiry will hear oral submissions from selected groups. Up first will be the CEO of the Electoral Commission, Sy Mamabolo, with the Department of Health’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on the COVID- 19 pandemic and the department’s Director-General to follow.

The Health Justice Initiative, People’s Health Movement and Progressive Health Forum will round off proceedings.

While it is clear that the inquiry will seek to follow an evidence-based approach, some such as EFF leader Julius Malema will take convincing.

“There will not be free and fair elections in South Africa when one of its critical components called campaigning is suspended according to covid-19 regulations. The people who are calling for elections are the ones who won’t comply with the regulations and they are prepared to compromise the lives of people because they have an uncontrollable desire for power”, says Malema.

His view is contrary to that of the Democratic Alliance (DA).

“What is now incumbent is on the IEC to make sure that there are ways that we can redesign in which our elections are done and we redesign in fact how we will make sure that every single South African is afforded this very inalienable right of being able to vote for representatives that represent them and deliver for them,” says DA National Spokesperson, Siviwe Gwarube.

Stakeholders from various sectors, including political parties, will also have an opportunity to have their say. Hearings will be open to the public and live-streamed on the IEC’s website.

The inquiry will submit its report to the Electoral Commission on July 21.

Political parties gear up for the upcoming local government elections: