The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called upon on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to consider “combining” the national, provincial and local government elections in 2024.
This follows IEC chairperson, Glen Mashinini confirming that the earliest possible date for next year’s local government elections stood at 4 August 2021, which must be held before 1 November 2021.
The decision on the matter came during a virtual briefing to parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs on Tuesday.
In a statement on Thursday, the EFF noted the announcement as it also raised its concern regarding reports suggesting that the next year’s local elections might be postponed in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There are engagements by political parties and civil society around the possible postponement of 2021 local government elections due to the outbreak of the virus.
“Scientists around the world predict that the virus is likely to be with us for the next two-to-three years, so it is a bit premature, but tentative dates to be announced citing scientific projections.
“The IEC is also subject to any legislative developments that may occur after a consultative process by political parties and parliament,” the red berets said.
Explaining its call for the elections to be combined, the party said: “This will not only preserve the resources of government but will be a measure to heighten voter participation and ensure that those elected focus on their mandates of service delivery and not be in a permanent state of contesting elections.
“As things stand, the Electoral Court has already granted the IEC permission to postpone by-elections in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. We urge the IEC to begin preparing for the reality of postponing 2021 local government elections and the possibility of a single general election for all spheres of government.”
Last month, the Constitutional Court had declared the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 unconstitutional “to the extent that it requires that adult citizens may be elected to the national assembly and provincial legislatures only through their membership of political parties”.
The declaration was suspended for 24 months to allow parliament “an opportunity to remedy the defect giving rise to the unconstitutionality”.
EFF leader Julius Malema Malema described the ConCourt’s ruling as “nothing new”.
“Nothing new because we are already doing it at a local government level, we must just find a perfect way of practising it nationally to strengthen our democracy. By the way, in the last local government elections, independent candidates collectively garnered 341,214 votes,” he said on his Twitter account.
Meanwhile, deputy president Floyd Shivambu claimed that “getting voters is not the same as gaining followers on social media“.
“Let’s welcome independent candidates to electoral politics in SA. Many will realise that convincing voters to vote for an agenda is not the same as gaining followers on social media. Let the independent candidates register and we will meet on the ground. Best wishes,” he said.