No plans to postpone elections - IEC’s Sy Mamabolo
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Johannesburg - The Electoral Commission’s chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo says there are no plans to postpone the elections adding that the IEC welcomes Wednesday’s announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that this year’s local government elections will be held on October 27.
The commission said the announcement allows the electoral commission and all stakeholders to begin preparations to ensure the country’s sixth municipal council elections are free, fair and safe.
“This years elections would be among the most challenging yet faced by the electoral commission, political parties, candidates and other other stakeholders. Campaigning and mobilising citizens and conducting registration and elections in-person as required by our legal framework presents unique challenges to us all under Covid19 conditions,” said Mamabolo during a press conference held at the IEC’s headquarters in Centurion yesterday.
He maintained that the commission will soon embark on a national voter registration campaign to facilitate and encourage participation in the elections by as many eligible voters as possible.
Mamabolo said the dates for the weekend will be announced soon following consultations with various stakeholders.
“The commission reminds voters that there will be only one general voter registration weekend due to resource constraints. We call on all eligible voters especially first-time voters to ensure they are ready to registered to participate including obtaining ID documents where necessary,” said Mamabolo.
He highlighted that arrangements would be put in place to special votes.
Mamabolo also indicated that there would only be one voter-registration weekend and that the elections would be held over one day.
“There is going to be a one-day voter registration weekend. The reality imposed on IEC by the nature of resources available to the commission would have preferred two voter registration weekends given the resources available, only one weekend,” said Mamabolo.
The IEC has already met with leaders and representatives of political parties during a meeting with the National Party Liaison Committee to discuss a range of issues relating to elections.
Those who were present included Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and Home Affairs Deputy Minister Njabulo Nzuza.
“The meeting is part of our ongoing consultations and engagements with all the key stakeholders to plan and prepare for the elections,” said Mamabolo.
He said the commission after meeting with the above stakeholders is exploring that special votes could be extended. Normally there are two days for special voter, the commission is considering this but no decision has been made yet.
“On Election Day it’s still one day, we are constrained by law to have one day but special voting if finances are available might extend,” he said.
Mamabolo said Mkhize had indicated the current Covid-19 model was not able to indicate when the spike or peak of Covid-19 will arise, adding the government can only give this kind of intelligence four weeks prior to election day.
“We cannot predict the virus and when it’s going to peak, we can’t preclude the possibility of a postponement of the elections,” said Mamabolo.
Mamabolo highlighted that not all political parties were satisfied regarding the elections going ahead.
“There were very passionate arguments on both sides of the debate with some calling for a postponement and others calling for elections to proceed. Not everyone left the meeting satisfied,” said Mamabolo.
On Wednesday's by-elections, Mamabolo announced the ANC had retained 10 seats and won two seats from the DA and the IFP respectively.
“The IFP and the DA each retained one seat. The average voter turnout was 40.65% which compares well with the average voter turnout for by-elections since the previous local government elections in 2016 which is 38.37%,” he said.