ANC cautious as opposition parties welcome resumption of political gatherings

Political parties have committed to sticking to the 'new normal' as per COVID-19 regulations as they prepare to resume activities and prepare for the upcoming local government elections.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and other members of the party's top 6 at the 108 birthday celebrations in Kimberley on 11 January 2020. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) continues to call for a cautious approach to COVID-19 as opposition parties welcome the opening up of political space ahead of the 2021 local government elections.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night moved the country back to alert level 1 of government’s risk-adjusted approach to the pandemic – this means that social, political, cultural and religious gatherings are now permitted.

FULL SPEECH: President Ramaphosa's national address on COVID-19 developments

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has been demanding the resumption of political gatherings, even sending the president a legal letter regarding the matter last week.

Political parties have committed to sticking to the “new normal” as per COVID-19 regulations as they prepare to resume activities and prepare for the upcoming local government elections.

The ANC said that while it welcomed President Ramaphosa’s announcement, it wanted its own structure to exercise maximum caution.

Spokesperson Pule Mabe said that this was an opportunity for all parties to prepare themselves for the polls and lead in efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

"It is going to be necessary that all political parties, including ourselves in the African National Congress, become good ambassadors for the health safety protocols."

The EFF’s Vuyani Pambo referred to the protracted prohibition of political gatherings as thuggery, accusing Ramaphosa of attempting to ambush parties by allowing for the elections to go ahead.

Pambo insisted that nothing would guarantee COVID-19-friendly free and fair elections.

"People gather in numbers, people are touching documents, people are touching each other's IDs, there's the movement of ballot papers..."

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which was also in favour of postponed elections, said that it would use the upcoming by-elections as a test run of what to expect, adding that it would be good to return to the political space.

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