IEC looking at postponing 2021 local government elections

Image for illustrative purposes. Picture: Neil McCartney

Bapela said the commission had not yet made a decision on a possible date for the election.

The Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is in consultation to possibly postpone next year’s local government elections due to the Covid-19 pandemic, IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela told News24 on Tuesday.

Bapela said the commission had not yet made a decision on a possible date for the election, adding that they would consult political parties and various other stakeholders, including Parliament, the concerned government departments and the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB).

Earlier this month, IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo told the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs the MDB would first need to finish the process of evaluating the potential demarcation and re-demarcation of ward boundaries.

“If we look at the different wards, many of them have grown three times since the previous election and those have to be processed. The IEC will also have to consult the education department because we make use of classrooms as our voting stations, and not forgetting the Department of Home Affairs, who will have processed new IDs [of those] who may become new voters,” Bapela said.

“In terms of next year, we have not yet made a determination but we are in consultation about a possible new date possibly later in the year.”

Shortly after government’s implementation of the lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 in March, the Electoral Court postponed by-elections scheduled for 3 and 10 June, along with associated activities including voter registration.

This also meant that by-elections could be held beyond the 90-day legislated period for the filling of councillor vacancies, but not beyond 120 days from the date of the order, the IEC said in a statement.

The Electoral Court also granted permission to the IEC to approach the court again for further alternative relief, including further postponement, Bapela said.

“As soon as we resume some normality we have to look at things like observing social distance during voting, processing of identity documents by home affairs. We will see when we get back how we make up time lost. I imagine the end of 2020 being very busy,” she said.

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