President Cyril Ramaphosa has appealed to South Africans to give the Electoral Commission and the Moseneke Inquiry time to determine whether the conditions are conducive for free and fair elections this year.

He says no other date has been determined for holding the elections other than October 27 which he announced earlier this year.

Answering questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday, President Ramaphosa says at this stage, there is no reason to believe that the date for local government elections would be shifted.

President Cyril Ramaphosa answers questions in the NCOP: 

The Electoral Commission has appointed an independent panel led by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to determine whether, in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, elections would be free and fair.

In April this year, Ramaphosa announced that the country would go to the polls on 27 October. MPs wanted to know why this announcement preceded a decision by the IEC to appoint a panel to determine the possible impact of COVID-19 on the elections.

However, Ramaphosa says seeing that the date has not yet been gazetted, there is no reason to panic. Asked if he would move the date, he answered that – at this stage, it is not on the cards.

“As there is no determination of a postponement at this stage, no other date has been considered as election date other than 20 October 2021.”

He called on politicians not to pre-empt the panel’s outcome. “What I find most pleasing is that we have checks and balances in place. So, if we make a mistake, it can be checked to create balance. This process will check if the decision we took to have an election later this year was the correct one.”

Damage to state infrastructure

During the hard lockdown, significant damage and vandalising of state infrastructure took place. Ramaphosa says up to 1 700 schools were affected and several Metrorail stations. At this point, the government can’t put a figure on the damage.

“With respect to commuter rail, Metrorail has seen an alarming increase in vandalised infrastructure, their overhead cables, electrical subs, train stations, etc. took place in Gauteng Province, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal.”

Ramaphosa says the burden of repairing the vandalised infrastructure is too much for the country’s purse. “Of course we face enormous fiscal challenges. that is why important to note that when people damage infrastructure – it’s easy to damage but to rebuild is much more expensive, in fact, impossibly expensive.”