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IEC hopeful COVID-19 pandemic under control in time for local elections

Briefing MPs on Tuesday, the IEC said that while COVID-19 would have a huge bearing on next year’s local elections, preparations were well underway.

FILE: IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said that the ability to hold free and fair elections next year would be totally dependent on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Briefing MPs on Tuesday, the IEC said that while COVID-19 would have a huge bearing on next year’s local elections, preparations were well underway.

The commission briefed the National Assembly’s Home Affairs committee on its state of readiness for the 2021 local government elections.

IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said that they remained hopeful that the pandemic would be under control by the time the elections were due to take place.

"We remain, however, hopeful that the pandemic will be behind us or will be under control so that the elections can take place in conditions conducive to free and fair elections."

Mashinini said that the coronavirus had also disrupted the work of the Municipal Demarcation Board, which means confirmed ward boundaries had not been concluded on time.

IEC deputy chief executive officer Masego Shiburi also told MPs that COVID-19 had presented them with a unique challenge.

"For example, the regulations on the state of disaster do not allow for the gathering of persons. Should an election undertaken during those conditions be declared free and fair?"

The portfolio committee on Home Affairs has also urged the electoral commission to move with speed to update the details of 9% of voters who may have incomplete address information or no address listed on the voters roll.

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