Justice Dikgang Moseneke to evaluate IEC’s Covid-19 safety protocols ahead of 2021 elections
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Johannesburg - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has appointed former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to lead a process to evaluate the impact of Covid-19 on conditions conducive for the holding of free and fair elections later this year.
IEC made the announcement this afternoon in Centurion, the local government elections are expected to take place on October 27.
Moseneke will undertake an urgent appraisal of all the relevant legal, socio-political, health, practical and other considerations and submit a report to the commission during July.
The IEC said, in addition to assessing the various factors, the report may also make recommendations of additional measures to further fortify the integrity and safety of the elections.
The electoral body also said the request to Moseneke is in line with Section 14(4) of the Electoral Commission Act (51 of 1996) which provides for the commission, should it deem necessary, to publish a report on the likelihood or otherwise that it will be able to ensure that any pending elections will be free and fair.
“Preparations to host the local government elections are at an advanced stage and the commission is satisfied that it is possible to conduct successful elections within the current circumstances,” said commission chairperson Glen Mashinini.
He added: “The commission is also confident that the special Covid-19 protocols and measures to be put in place for the elections will provide adequate safeguards. These measures have been tested in over 150 by-elections conducted over the past six months.”
The IEC also said measures also taken into consideration included the experiences of a number of other countries in conducting elections successfully during the pandemic.
“The commission is not oblivious to the uncertainties and unpredictability of the pandemic and the risks associated with hosting events which bring together large numbers of people. We also understand that these circumstances will require political parties and candidates to adjust their traditional campaign strategies.
“Under such abnormal conditions, the minimum requirements for what constitute free and fair conditions may be different from the standards we apply to during ordinary times,” said Mashinini.
While this process is underway, the commission said it will continue with all its preparations to hold the elections as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Mashinini said the formal proclamation of the elections by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, which triggers a series of electoral processes in terms of the law, must still take place by early August.