Civil groups worried about impact of slow vaccine drive on local govt elections

They have told the Inquiry into ensuring free and fair local government elections that South Africa would not reach the target of 40 million for herd immunity by October.

FILE: An IEC official sits behind two ballot boxes, as she waits for voters in Langa. Picture: Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - Civil society organisations are concerned about the country’s low vaccination rate and how this could impact on this year’s local government elections.

They have told the Inquiry into ensuring free and fair local government elections that South Africa would not reach the target of 40 million for herd immunity by October.

The inquiry, headed by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, kicked off in Johannesburg on Monday.

The inquiry has heard oral submissions from the IEC as well as civil society organisations and health experts.

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While organisations like the Health Justice Initiative and People’s Health Movement jointly said they were not decided on going ahead with elections, they did warn against a slow vaccination rollout.

The Health Justice Initiative’s Fatima Hassan said: “But we do warn that the situation is dire. It’s dire because we have limited vaccine supplies and limited ability to do proper ramped-up testing. This means that some of the people who are eligible to vote will not even be vaccinated or fully vaccinated by the time of the election in October.”

IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo earlier on Monday told the inquiry that a decision on whether the elections were free and fair would be determined by the inquiry, which must complete its work by 21 July.

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