Government proclaims 27 October for local elections, but supports IEC postponement bid

The government has proclaimed 27 October as the date for local government elections to comply with the law, but will support the legal bid by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to postpone the vote to February next year as recommended by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Tuesday.

Last month, the IEC received a 120-page report from Moseneke which recommended that the elections be postponed, because having them in October would render them unfree and unfair because of restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. The IEC accepted the report. 

In a media briefing on Tuesday, Dlamini-Zuma made it clear that, by law, the elections were still set for 27 October until the IEC successfully applied to the Constitutional Court for a postponement.

“Only the IEC can decide if the conditions allow for the elections to continue or not. They initiated and accepted the report by former deputy chief justice Moseneke. The government cannot object to these factors and allow elections to continue willy-nilly. We have to follow what the IEC and the Constitutional Court says about the election,” she added.

Dlamini-Zuma said if the court agreed to postpone the elections, then the councils currently in office would remain until new ones were elected. 

According to the constitution, when the five-year term of an elected municipal council expires, an election should take place within 90 days. The current term expires this month.  

“We can assist the IEC as a government  and also put our supporting arguments for them forward. But we will accept whatever the court says,” Dlamini-Zuma told reporters.

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Chris Gilili
Chris Gilili is a climate and environmental journalist at the Mail & Guardian’s environmental unit, covering socioeconomic issues and general news. Previously, he was a fellow at amaBhungane, the centre for investigative journalism.

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