IEC delays voter registration weekend by two weeks amid Covid-19 3rd wave
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Johannesburg - The voter registration weekend will be delayed by two weeks, the IEC said on Wednesday.
The IEC had announced July 17 and 18 as earmarked for the last registration weekend ahead of elections.
The new dates will be July 31 and August 1.
The commission said the decision was not easy, but it had to consider rising coronavirus infections in the country that have driven a third wave.
South Africans are scheduled to head to the polls on October 27.
"The decision was made following a review of the current conditions, including rate of infections and hospitalisations over the past seven days, and its impact on preparations for the registration weekend," said IEC chief executive Sy Mamabolo.
Mamabolo said the commission had also been mindful of the submission made at the IEC Inquiry, which is chaired by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke.
The inquiry is probing whether the elections can be held safely and in a free and fair manner.
Political parties and health experts made presentations at the inquiry last week. It was political parties who were largely divided by the question of an election postponement.
Former IEC commissioner Terry Tselane had proposed to Moseneke that the elections should be postponed until next year. He also motivated strongly for the voter registration weekend to also be postponed.
Health experts made submissions that the current Covid-19 wave was likely to last until August.
The two-week postponement will have an impact on the elections called. Mamabolo said the proclamation of elections would be delayed by four days to August 6.
"The commission remains confident that successful elections can be held within a reduced election timetable of 82 days, rather than the original 86 days. The Electoral Commission today briefed the National Party Liaison Committee on the decision and the revised timelines and plans," Mamabolo said.
"The Commission has taken this very difficult decision in the interests of saving lives of voters, election staff, party representatives and all citizens, while still preserving the constitutional requirement to hold elections," he said.
Moseneke's final report is expected by July 21.