ANC says political parties opposing postponement of elections represent wealthy, privileged voters
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Pretoria - The African National Congress (ANC) has hit back at political parties opposing the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC)’s bid to secure the postponement of the local government elections to early 2022, saying they are out of touch with realities affecting poor South African communities.
“The parties opposed to postponing elections represent wealthy and privileged voters who have access to a range of communications media and are not affected by many of these realities,” said ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe.
He said the ANC has noted public statements by the organisations insisting that the local government elections must proceed as scheduled on October 27, despite the challenges occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Furthermore, they [parties opposing the postponement of elections] have suggested that parties supporting a postponement do so based on narrow and self-serving considerations. The ANC has consistently maintained that local government elections must be held within the timeframes set by the Constitution and the relevant laws. We have emphasised the right of citizens to choose their representatives through regular multi-party elections,” said Mabe.
“However, we were forced to concede that successive waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the measures required to contain it, have impacted negatively on the IECs ability to prepare for these elections. This includes, amongst others, the cancellation of open voter registration weekends.”
He said these restrictions also limited the ability of political parties to campaign and to choose candidates through democratic and participatory processes involving communities.
“Many South African voters rely on direct voter contact for information to make informed and meaningful political choices. This requires meetings and door-to-door campaigning, which are restricted under the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mabe.
“Furthermore, millions of South Africans have been deprived of the opportunity to register to vote due to the cancellation of open registration weekends because of Covid-19 restrictions. This has effectively disenfranchised them.”
The ANC argued that these factors make the holding of elections with maximum popular participation difficult, and in some cases impossible.
“This will have a severely adverse impact on free and fair elections, and the ability of voters to hold those in public office accountable. These painful realities were clearly articulated by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke in the report of the inquiry into holding free and fair elections under the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mabe.
“Judge Moseneke recommended that local elections be postponed. He did so after hearing extensive academic, legal and medical evidence, as well as submissions by political parties. The ANC’s position is well articulated in its submissions to Judge Moseneke and the Constitutional Court.”
Last week, the Forum4ServiceDelivery (F4SD) said it has filed court papers in the Constitutional Court opposing the Electoral Commission of SA’s (IEC) bid to secure a deferment of the local government elections.
“Look at it this way, if fellow African nations like Congo, Cameroon and Zambia can proceed with elections, why can’t we? What is stopping us from holding these scheduled elections? What the IEC should be doing is to put additional mechanisms, for example, people voting where there is enough ventilation,” F4SD president Mbahare Kekana told African News Agency (ANA).
“We can have these elections with mechanisms like people of different age groups voting on different days, as they are doing with vaccination. They can spread the voting over different days, and in terms of the Electoral Act, the IEC can also introduce more mobile voting stations.”
The IEC last month accepted the Moseneke recommendation, that it would not be safe to hold the national local government elections in October in the wake of an increasing number of Covid-19 infections and deaths.
The IEC was reacting to the Moseneke Inquiry report, which was presented to it on July 20 and in which Justice Moseneke strongly warned about holding elections while millions of people have yet to receive vaccination against the deadly virus.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has also opposed the IEC’s move, arguing that a constitutional crisis will be created if the Constitutional Court accedes to the IEC’s application for the deferment of the local government elections to February 2022.
The ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have supported the bid to defer the polls, but other political parties including the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) have been opposed to it, demanding that the elections be held as scheduled on October 27.
The urgent application by the IEC for the elections to be postponed to February next year will be heard in the Constitutional Court on August 20.
African News Agency (ANA)