Election monitoring groups echo calls for postponement of local govt elections

Civil society, election monitor groups and trade unions have made oral submissions at the inquiry into ensuring free and fair local government elections during COVID-19.

FILE: Voting station presiding officer supervising voters as they arrive at a voting station to vote in the by-elections in Ward 30, at Rantailane Secondary School in Ga-Rankuwa on 19 May, 2021. Picture: Boikhutso Ntsoko/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Election monitoring organisations and medical experts have called for the postponement of the local government elections until May next year.

Civil society, election monitor groups and trade unions have made oral submissions at the inquiry into ensuring free and fair local government elections during COVID-19.

The hearings continued for a second day on Tuesday.

The inquiry into ensuring free and fair elections in October received a mixed message from those who made submissions on Tuesday.

One of the recommendations was from the Institute of Election Management Services in Africa which is chaired by former IEC commissioner Terry Tselane.

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He said a postponement was the best option: “I have suggested that we consider postponing the elections to May 2022 and the IEC staff should be prioritised for vaccination.”

But Grant Masterson of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa said there’d been no evidence of COVID-19 risk during previous polls.

“We find no evidence that the more than 130 elections that have been held under COVID conditions since March last year have led to any catastrophic consequences.”

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