File picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
File picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Don’t let Covid-19 stifle democracy by delaying elections: analysts

By Siphokazi Vuso Time of article published May 31, 2021

Share this article:

Cape Town - Political analysts have cautioned against suppressing people’s right to vote amid a process to evaluate Covid-19-related conditions.

Following an announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that the local government elections will take place on October 27, the Electoral Commission (IEC) recently appointed former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to evaluate whether Covid-related conditions would impact on the process.

UWC political scientist Keith Gottschalk said the evaluation led by Moseneke would focus on the extent to which political rallies and door-to-door canvassing would be stopped by lockdown regulations, and the extent to which political parties in 2021 cannot substitute digital methods for old-style canvassing.

“For example, one-third of South African voters cannot afford smartphones to attend Zoom meetings. Many of those who can afford smartphones, especially the unemployed and retrenched, will have run out of airtime or data.

“If Moseneke recommends a postponement in municipal elections, this need not be more than 12 months, as the government should have completed Covid vaccinations before October 2022,” he said.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said postponing the elections should be the last resort. .

“I think we should try to hold elections, even if we may not have normal elections as we are used to. Postponing elections should be the last resort, in my view. It’s very important that we do not allow the Covid to suppress important rights (such) as the right to vote,” he said.

Political parties also weighed in.

DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said any postponement of the elections should “only be considered if the IEC cannot guarantee holding free, fair and safe elections”.

ANC MPL and the leader of the opposition, Cameron Dugmore, said they wanted the elections to proceed.

“As MPLs we are working hard with the ANC interim provincial committee (IPC) to ensure that we are ready for the registration weekend on July 17 and 18, with the ID campaign, candidate selection and canvassing,” he said.

Land Party chief leader Gcobani Ndzongana said elections should proceed, adding that they would be among political parties that would approach the Constitutional Court regarding the matter.

Good Party national spokesperson Sam Shabane said the IEC did not have the discretion to delay the elections.

“Free and fair elections are possible as long as the contestants have the same opportunity to campaign, voters have the unfettered opportunity to express their will, and the outcome of the elections reflects the will of the voters,” he said.

Cape Times

Share this article: