Political parties are still divided on how to conduct their election campaigns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The political space has even become smaller with the country now on adjusted Alert Level 3 of the national lockdown, which allows a gathering of only 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.
Free and fair elections are always seen as the hallmark of a functioning and maturing democracy. And this is what characterised South Africa’s local and general elections since the dawn of democracy. But with the surge of COVID-19 infections, some political parties say this could threaten the freeness and fairness of the October 27 polls.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is leading the call to postpone the elections, with many more now questioning how free and fair these elections could be under the current conditions.
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Velenkosi Hlabisa says most voters won’t have maximum participation in the election of their candidates.
National Freedom Party (NFP) Secretary-General Canaan Mdletshe shares the same sentiments, while the United Democratic Movement (UDM) Secretary-General Bongani Msomi says any election with restrictions will never be free and fair.
But not all parties are for the election postponement.
The Congress of the People (COPE) and the Democratic Alliance are among the parties that believe they should go ahead as planned.
DA National spokesperson Siviwe Gharube says for effective campaigning, parties need to be innovative and creative under the new normal.
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) Election Manager Grant Haskin on the other hand says the pandemic won’t be long to warrant the postponement of elections.
An inquiry to probe the feasibility of conducting the polls amid the pandemic is under way and it will advise the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on a way forward.
Discussion on challenges facing SA as it gears up for polls amid a pandemic: