The African National Congress (ANC) has clapped back at opposition parties and organizations who have applied at the Constitutional Court to oppose the application of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to have local government elections postponed to February.
‘Always in support’
On Tuesday the ANC said those opposed to postponing elections represented wealthy and privileged voters who had access to a range of communications media and were not affected by many of the realities posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These painful realities were clearly articulated by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke in the report of the inquiry into holding free and fair elections under the Covid-19 pandemic,” the party said in a statement.
The ruling party said it was aware of allegations made by opposition parties that it wanted the elections postponed based on narrow and self-serving considerations.
It said it was always in support of elections held in October after careful considerations.
“We were forced to concede that successive waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the measures required to contain it, have impacted negatively on the IEC’s ability to prepare for these elections. This includes, amongst others, the cancellation of open voter registration weekends.
“Many South African voters rely on direct voter contact for information to make informed and meaningful political choices. This requires meetings and door-to-door campaigning, which are restricted under the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“These factors make the holding of elections with maximum popular participation difficult, and in some cases impossible. This will have a severely adverse impact on free and fair elections, and the ability of voters to hold those in public office accountable,” the statement further reads.
The ANC also said that stakeholders should await the judgment of the Constitutional Court.
The Western Cape government has since joined the Democratic Alliance (DA), along with others, in opposing the IEC’s application in court to have the elections postponed.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said the postponement would set a “dangerous” precedent.
“As a provincial government, we will oppose the postponement of the election because it risks setting a dangerous precedent whereby suffrage, and related rights, can be deferred and without following the correct constitutional process.
“As per the Constitution, the matter must be brought before Parliament and not the judiciary. We must ensure that our elections continue ahead as planned as this is in the best interest of our democracy,” Winde said in a statement on Tuesday.
Last week, the DA applied to be joined to the IEC’s application to the Constitutional Court, in which it seeks a postponement of the October 2021 election to early 2022, while One South Africa leader (OSA) Mmusi Maimane also indicated that he’ll be joining in opposing the application.
Meanwhile, DearSA has argued the IEC “can implement precautions derived from international data and experience to make voting and electioneering safe, without delay.”
“The argument is premised on the difficulties of conducting free and fair elections during a pandemic,” the organization said.
DearSA revealed it conducted a participation campaign responding to the IEC’s call for comment on the Moseneke Report, which generated almost 8,000 public responses, with 63.3% of them being against any election delays.
The organization has also made a submission to the Constitutional Court to oppose the postponement.
At this stage, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) remains the only party pushing for the elections to be postponed, with the party’s leader Julius Malema arguing that political parties were constrained in conducting their campaigns, in efforts to encourage the youth to vote, among other reasons.
Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo will hear the IEC’s application on Friday, after the commission filed the urgent application two weeks ago to have the elections deferred to February next year.
This came after former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke’s inquiry into the feasibility of holding elections this year found that scheduled elections would likely not be free and fair.
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