The DA has taken note of the recommendation by the Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke that it will not be reasonably possible for South Africa to hold free and fair Local Government Elections (LGE) on 27 October and that the elections be held by no later than the end of February 2022.
The recommendation forms part of a report released by the retired Judge today on the outcomes of his Inquiry into Ensuring Free and Fair Local Government Elections.
The DA does not support the postponement of the LGE. We have said from the start that it is possible to hold elections within Covid-19 protocols. During our oral submissions to the Moseneke Inquiry earlier this month, the DA made the following arguments in support of the elections going ahead:
The LGE must adhere to the constitutionally prescribed timeframe. According to the Constitution, the LGE must take place every 5 years.
It is not essential to have mass gatherings and marches in order to hold free and fair elections. It is these events that give rise to the risk of Covid transmission - not the holding of elections in themselves.
The election timetable is a regulatory mechanism to ensure free and fair elections, and the "state of readiness" of political parties to participate in the elections is not a valid reason to postpone the LGE.
Arguments that the LGE will lead to increased Covid-19 infections can be disputed in light of the various by-elections which took place since the start of the State of Disaster. Furthermore, most scientific models, at this stage, predict that there is a very good possibility that infection rates will be stable and even low in the period immediately before and on 27 October.
We also argued that it should not automatically be accepted that government will be able to vaccinate the number of people necessary to achieve so-called herd immunity by February 2022.
While scepticism exists around the Covid-19 protocols which could contribute to depressed turnout during the elections, more must be done to encourage turn out and not simply scapegoat the Covid pandemic.
The DA will now study the Moseneke report in light of the constitutional implications thereof and communicate our next steps in due course.
Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.