A final report, by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, on whether the current conditions during lockdown is conducive or not to hold free and fair elections is expected to be completed and handed to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) by 21 July.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the local government elections would be held on 27 October.
However, there have been concerns about how such elections would be held during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On 20 May, the IEC revealed that Moseneke had been tasked to lead an inquiry, which would evaluate whether the current conditions would allow for free and fair elections.
In a statement on Thursday, Moseneke said the process was already underway and that he had an information session with political parties represented in the National Party Liaison Committee.
“In this discussion, representatives of the political parties pledged their support for this inquiry, and I had the opportunity to convey to them how the inquiry will be conducted,” Moseneke said.
The former deputy chief justice also revealed some of the salient features of the terms of reference for the inquiry, which include:
- Enquiring, making findings and recommendations concerning the likelihood that the electoral commission would be able to ensure that the forthcoming 2021 local government elections will be free and fair, given the challenges posed by the pandemic, and the measures promulgated by the government to curb the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.
- To indicate additional measures that the electoral commission may be required to implement to realise free and fair elections within the context of the pandemic.
- The inquiry will invite various stakeholders to make submissions from Friday, and preliminary submissions by the chief electoral officer will be made on 4 June 2021, followed by substantive submissions on 11 June 2021.
Those invited to make submissions include:
- Government stakeholders, such as the Ministries of Health and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
- Non-governmental health institutions
- Medical experts involved in the management of the pandemic
- Political parties in the national and local spheres of government
- Electoral stakeholders, such as organisations involved in electoral monitoring and electoral research
- Members of the public
The inquiry will also hear oral submissions from invited stakeholders in the week commencing Monday, 28 June 2021.
“Should any member of the public or civic organisations choose to make submissions, they may notify us and make submissions no later than Friday, 18 June 2021. Details of the website of the inquiry, as well as various means for the public to make submissions, will be made known in the near future.”
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The final report will be handed to the commission by 21 July, before the date of the minister’s proclamation of the local government elections.
“This matter is of obvious public concern and importance,” Moseneke said.
“For that reason, this inquiry will be as transparent as possible, and the submissions made to it, both orally and in writing, will be made accessible to all stakeholders and the public at large.”