IEC hits the ground running ahead of November elections

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Wednesday announced that South Africans will head to the polls on 1 November.

FILE: Inside the Durban City Hall voting station, as the special voting day commences on 6 May 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has hit the ground running with its plans to hold elections within the next two months despite the pending Constitutional Court challenge against its reopening of candidate registrations.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Wednesday announced that South Africans will head to the polls on 1 November.

READ: Local govt elections to be held on 1 November

It will be an election of many firsts for South Africans with the COVID-19 pandemic a real threat, putting added pressure on the IEC.

Minister Dlamini-Zuma has reminded South Africans of this too.

“There are lots of consultations that need to take place with political parties, we've consulted the provinces already. But there needs to be consultation with traditional leaders, with religious leaders so that when the president speaks to the nation, those consultations would have taken place.”

Political parties will also have to improvise even if the current adjusted alert level 3 is eased.

“Even when they have a meeting, there may be numbers that are allowed indoors and numbers that are allowed outdoors, the spacing and the masks. So, yes, they may campaign, they can go door to door, but they have to keep to the protocols,” she added.

Indications are, however, that President Cyril Ramaphosa will brief the nation soon on lockdown restrictions with hopes that this would extend the number of people at gatherings to allow political parties wider reach.

Dr Sethulego Matebesi from the University of the Free State said voter turnout was likely to be affected if it was a normal working day.

“If you have to go to work, it’s very difficult and those are the challenges that we had with the previous election. In the past, the local government elections ran over three days, so it’s going to be interesting to see how we’re going to deal with one day.”

Apart from the logistics, there's also a looming court case hanging over the polls with the DA going to the Constitutional Court to challenge the reopening of the candidate registration process.

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