IEC to hold by-elections in one go ahead of crucial municipal poll in 2021
Cape Town – The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has confirmed it will hold by-elections in November after the outbreak of Covid-19 in March forced it to halt all by-elections in the last few months.
IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini and chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said in a statement on Friday this was an opportunity to return to political activity.
The IEC will hold by-elections in 96 wards and 56 municipalities across the country.
Mamabolo and Mashinini said holding all by-elections in one day in November would clear the backlog before the crucial municipal elections next year.
"To clear the backlog, the Electoral Commission plans to hold all vacant ward by-elections simultaneously on November 11, 2020. By-elections are scheduled in all nine provinces across 461 voting districts affected over 600 000 registered voters," said the IEC in a statement.
It said it will follow all health protocols when the by-elections are held.
The IEC said the decision to hold by-elections comes after consultations with Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma after President Cyril Ramaphosa moved the country to Level 1.
The easing of lockdown restrictions has allowed for the opening up of more activities and businesses across the country.
Mashinini said it was necessary to postpone the by-elections in March when Covid-19 hit the country.
“The decision by the commission to approach the Electoral Court for postponements of by-elections since March was not taken lightly,” said Mashinini.
“But given the risk to human life and restriction of political activity, the commission had no choice but to act responsibly and postpone the by-elections. Now that circumstances have improved, we are ready to give voters their political voice back,” said Mashinini.
Mamabolo said the fact that the country has moved to level 1 was an opportunity to clear the backlog of by-elections. This would come in time before the municipal elections next year.
“Ward council vacancies are not ordinarily filled during the final six months leading to municipal elections. South Africa will continue to hold by-elections for all the wards that become vacant until May 2021.
“However, holding all outstanding by-elections together on one day will help the Electoral Commission and political parties to focus their attention and energies on one day and to clear the backlog in one go,” said Mamabolo.