Briefing the home affairs portfolio committee, IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said they remained hopeful the pandemic would be behind them or be under control so that the elections could continue in conditions conducive to a free and fair outcome.
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson Glen Mashinini said on Tuesday the Covid-19 pandemic remained a risk as the electoral body prepares for the 2021 municipal elections.
Briefing the home affairs portfolio committee, Mashinini said they remained hopeful the pandemic would be behind them or be under control so that the elections could continue in conditions conducive to a free and fair outcome.
“In these times of uncertainty the best we can do is to prepare as best we can so that we are ready to meet conditions and challenges that await us,” he said.
He told the MPs the elections would be held within 90 days after expiry of the term on August 3 next year, meaning they would be held between August 4 and the end of November 2021.
Mashini also said the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs would have to proclaim a date for elections following consultation with the commission.
“These engagements are in progress between the Electoral Commission and Cogta minister. We have begun and we will continue as we seek to deal with uncertainties due to the pandemic,” he said.
Also, as part of preparations, the Municipal Demarcation Board has to delimitate wards.
“There has not been any changes as we know to the outer municipal boundaries ahead of next year’s election. There are usual changes to wards and disputes which may arise.”
Mashini also said the Municipal Demarcation Board has informed them that Covid-19 has hampered the delimitation and resulted in delays in the finalisation of ward boundaries.
“The discussion between the minister, the commission and the board are ongoing. We are liaising to make sure that we adhere to our time frames.”
He stated that while the revised timetable of the Municipal Demarcation Board still provided enough time for the commision meet its mandate to hold elections, any further impact will have a domino effect on their preparations and planning scenarios for elections.
Mashinini said the IEC was making steady progress to add addresses of voters on the voters roll.
“Today, we are proud to say we have addresses or sufficient details for over 24 million voters as opposed to when we started at 8 million, which constitutes 91% of voters in the voters roll,”he said.
According to Mashinini, only 4% of the voters have incomplete addresses and less than 5% were without addresses.
“We continue to secure the addresses… This task is ongoing and we as the commission are confident that we work tirelessly and ensure the voters roll is updated and as accurate as possible come the election period.”
He told the MPs that voter registration would form a key part of the 2021 municipal election preparation, with first-time voters and the youth being targeted.
Mashinini said they would also seek greater participation in the municipal election. The voter turnout has been rising from 48% in 2000.
“We have been encouraged about turnout rising up to 57% in the last municipal elections.”
He added that the electoral body was planning to have voter management devices in place for next year’s elections since Zipzip machines have become absolute.
“These (voter management) devices will allow election officials to verify voter registration details and record participation in real time, which will prevent any chance of multiple voting.
“The tender process in that regard is underway and we hope it will meet all delivery timelines,” Mashinini said.