The Electoral Commission says it will urgently study the final report of the Inquiry into Ensuring Free and Fair Elections during COVID-19 before making a final decision on the implications of the report.
The Commission today received the final report of the Inquiry from former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke which found that it will not be possible to hold free and fair Local Government Elections – scheduled for 27 October 2021 – as it will put more lives in danger.
Addressing the media in Pretoria earlier today, Justice Moseneke said the report has recommended the elections be held no later than February next year.
“The postponement of the elections will save lives,” he said, adding that large groups during this time of the pandemic are inclined to become super spreaders.
He said COVID-19 will remain a threat until most of the population has been vaccinated
The Commission said while it is cognisant of the very limited time available to make a final decision, it will consult with key stakeholders, including political parties via the Political Party Liaison Committee system, as well as various state role-players.
Next weekend the Electoral Commission has scheduled a national voter registration weekend on 31 July and 1 August.
Thereafter, on 2 August, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is expected to proclaim the elections which will trigger an 86-day election timetable.
With this in mind, the Commission expects to make a final announcement on the way forward within the next few days.
“The Commission is extremely grateful to Justice Moseneke and his team who conducted this Inquiry under extremely tight timelines necessitated by the Constitutional requirement to hold Local Government Elections before 1 November 2021.
“Despite these pressures, in just 61 days Justice Moseneke and his team managed to conduct a thorough, comprehensive, transparent and highly inclusive investigation into whether free and fair elections can be conducted under the current COVID-19 conditions,” the Commission said.
The Commission said the Moseneke Inquiry has significantly contributed to the national conversation about what constitutes freeness and fairness of elections.
“The Commission hopes that the final report on the Inquiry will not only assist the Commission in making a final determination regarding the upcoming Local Government Elections but will also contribute to the emergence of a national consensus of what conditions are necessary for free and fair elections and how we can ensure the safety of voters, candidates, election staff and all other participants,” the Commission said.
A copy of the report has been published at https://www.elections.org.za/freeandfair/.
Source: South African Government News Agency