Home South African Moseneke hears opposing views on postponing elections amid pandemic

Moseneke hears opposing views on postponing elections amid pandemic

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Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke this week concluded hearing oral submissions as part of his probe into whether the IEC can safely hold local government elections on October 27.

Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke this week concluded hearing oral submissions as part of his probe into whether the IEC can safely hold local government elections on October 27. Picture: Werner Beukes, SAPA.

Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke this week concluded hearing oral submissions as part of his probe into whether the IEC can safely hold local government elections on October 27.

Moseneke was appointed by the IEC to finalise a report, due on July 21, which should outline whether this year’s elections should be postponed or go ahead.

He heard diverse views from political parties and health experts.

Political parties took a strong stance on whether they supported or opposed the decision to allow elections to take place.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said the elections could be held in October with strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols.

Mmusi Maimane, who heads up the One South Africa Movement, which represents independent candidates, argued that a postponement could have devastating consequences for citizens.

He said the state of local governments posed a challenge, especially as electoral legislation states that local government terms end after five years.

He said a term expiration had consequences for the Municipal Finance Management Act and the Municipal Systems Act.

Maimane said that if elections were postponed, citizens would in effect be asked to give a “mandate” to unelected representatives, who would remain serving after their terms expired.

Similar arguments were made by ActionSA.  The party’s national chairperson Michael Beaumont said an election postponement would be an assault on the constitution.

Beaumont said the IEC could ensure voters were safe by expanding voting over two days and allowing South Africans over the age of 60 or people who suffer from comorbidities, to vote on additional special voting days.

African Content Movement leader Hlaudi Motsoeneng said his party advocated strongly for the elections to be postponed.

Motsoeneng said the IEC should take a stance on the matter and put people’s lives first.

As gatherings have been banned under Level 4, Motsoeneng said political parties were unable to reach voters in remote areas. He said the IEC should wait until a sizeable number of people had been vaccinated before the elections take place.

Former IEC chairperson Terry Tselane, who now runs his own elections management company Institute for Election Management Services, motivated strongly for an election postponement.

Tselane has proposed that elections should be postponed until May next year.

He said electoral legislation allowed for a postponement, but also for the continued operation of municipal councils, even after their expired term.

Tselane said allowing the vaccination programme to pick up steam and for enough people to be vaccinated would give voters the needed comfort to go out and vote.

Matthew Parks, from Cosatu, said the organisation was calling for a postponement to February 2022.

IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo also appeared on Monday and was asked by Moseneke if was it possible to postpone the local government elections.

The IEC had asked for a postponement of by-elections at the electoral court last year because of lockdown Level 5.

Mamabolo said that technically it was possible to postpone October’s elections. He said this was possible under two scenarios.

The first would be approaching the Constitutional Court seeking an extension outside of the 90 days in which the IEC is legally bound to hold elections.

The AIC and ATM on Thursday gave opposing views on whether the local government elections should be held.

ATM said it was largely concerned about the state of various local governments in the country. The party said because of how badly run some municipalities were, a delay in elections could deny unhappy citizens the right to change who governs them.

The AIC argued for the postponement of the elections.

Steven Jafta, the party’s secretary-general, said people’s lives should be put first, and that election should be postponed until next year.

On Friday EFF leader Julius Malema, whose party has been vocal calling for a postponement, reiterated the party’s stance.  Malema said elections should be postponed to April 2022.

He said if elections were to go-ahead, people would be forced to defy lockdown Level 5 regulations.

The red berets have criticised the IEC for launching its election campaign last month, saying it rendered Moseneke’s work as a useless exercise.

Malema said allowing elections to go-ahead would not provide an even playing field for smaller political parties which could not afford to use other avenues, besides rallies, to attract voters.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa also called for a postponement and said election day would be a massive super spreader event.

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