Pretoria - The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) has congratulated the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) for conducting a “successful, free and fair” local government elections under the difficult conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These were undoubtedly the most difficult elections that the IEC has conducted so far given the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dumisane Magagula, general secretary of Samwu.
“Despite the glitches that were experienced by voters, the IEC managed to conduct peaceful and successful elections which will lead to the 6th municipal administration. We thank South Africans for having exercised their constitutional right and played their civic duty, and braced different weather conditions to cast their votes.”
He said South Africa should however be concerned by the low voter turnout that was witnessed in these elections.
“We further take this opportunity to congratulate all councillors who were elected to lead the 6th municipal administration. We particularly congratulate the union’s officials and members who contested and have emerged as councillors in these elections while also urging them to not forget the plight of workers on the ground,” said Magagula.
He said Samwu hopes that the elected officials will represent the interests of workers and community members who mandated them to lead as councillors.
“In line with our October central executive committee meeting and resolutions of our federation Cosatu, the union took a decision to encourage workers and South Africans to vote for the ANC, a decision which we do not regret taking,” said Magagula.
“We therefore congratulate the ANC on being given the mandate to govern 116 of the country’s local municipalities. Despite the mandate to govern a majority of the country’s municipalities, we note with concern the electoral misfortunes that the party suffered in these elections.”
He said the misfortunes of the governing party a clear indication for the need to go back to the drawing board, and self introspect with the aim of pinpointing the reasons for the decline in voter confidence in the ANC.
Samwu added that this must be done before South Africa holds the 2024 general elections.
“These [local government] elections have resulted in 66 hung councils, a number that has not been seen in the history of the country’s municipal administrations.
“As political parties now begin with engagements of forming coalition governments in the hung municipalities, we urge them to put aside their differences and focus on ensuring that they form governments that are stable and responsive to the needs of South Africans and municipal workers,” said Magagula.
“The first priority for the councils that are to be constituted should be the immediate implantation of the recently signed salary and wage collective agreement in the South African Local Bargaining Council (SALGBC).
“Currently there are several municipalities that have not communicated with workers on when they will be receiving their salary increases. We want these councils to immediately take a council resolution on the implementation of workers’ salary increase,” he said.
The 2021 municipal elections were on Thursday given a clean bill of health by the IEC, which declared the democratic process free and fair.
Chief electoral officer, IEC chair Glen Mashinini rubberstamped the elections during the closing ceremony hosted at the national elections operations centre at the Pretoria Showgrounds.
He said the commission was glad that it was "still flying high the banner of electoral integrity, excellence as well as free and fair elections“.
He said the election results were determined in terms of Section 54 (1) (b) of the Municipal Electoral Act.
“We, as the commission, are satisfied that despite the few glitches, for which we deeply apologise, we have delivered quality elections. The commission is happy to report that our unique party liaison committee (PLC) system is indeed very effective and working,” he said.