South Africa: IEC Seeks to Postpone By-Elections

The Electoral Commission has once again approached the Electoral Court to postpone a series of scheduled by-elections following the implementation of COVID-19 level 3 lockdown restrictions.

In a statement, the commission said this was because the lockdown regulations include prohibitions on political activities.

The commission said it is seeking the court's approval to postpone by-elections scheduled for 20 January, 3 February and 17 February on the basis that the latest regulations curtail political activities imperilling the freeness and fairness of the elections.

The Electoral Commission noted that even though many of the preparations for the by-elections have been concluded, and protocols are in place for the safe conducting of elections as piloted in November and December, the regulations prohibiting political activities will seriously hamper campaigning by candidates and political parties.

The court application seeks to extend the 90-day period in 14 wards across the country.

"The approach to the Electoral Court followed consultations with political parties via the National Party Liaison Committee during which all parties expressed support for the postponement," the Commission said.

The IEC said by-elections scheduled for 3 March currently remain on track.

However, the Commission noted that voter registration is scheduled for 23 to 24 January and parties and candidates may be hindered from undertaking proper preparations for the registration weekend given the current regulations which remains in place until at least 12 January.

The Electoral Commission says it will continue to monitor developments closely with regards to the restrictions and regulations with a view to whether to proceed or approach the court for a postponement of the 3 March by elections as well as the rescheduling of any postponed by-elections as soon as possible.

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