Published: Apr 22, 2021
The Electoral Commission acknowledges the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that the Local Government Elections will be held on Wednesday 27 October 2021. The announcement allows the Electoral Commission and all other stakeholders to begin their preparations to ensure South Africa’s sixth municipal council elections are free, fair and safe. Earlier today the Commission met with leaders and representatives of political parties in the National Party Liaison Committee to discuss a range of issues relating to the elections. Also at the meeting were the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma along with the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkize and the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Mr Njabulo Nzuza.
The meeting is part on our on-going consultations and engagements with all the key stakeholders to plan and prepare for the elections. The meeting discussed, among others, the date announced by the President, progress in the administrative planning for the elections, and issues related to the health and safety of participants under the continued COVID-19 pandemic.Political parties were also invited to raise any issues or concerns regarding the elections including the impact of COVID-19 on conditions conducive to free and fair elections.
A number of parties tabled their concerns regarding restrictions on political gatherings and other constraints to campaigning under the current national state of disaster regulations. Some parties have proposed postponing the elections in light of the pandemic.Others have indicated their view that the elections should proceed under special COVID-19 protocols as part of “the new normal”. The Commission shared with the parties its analysis of the Constitution and other legal implications regarding any possible postponement. Its position, which is supported by the opinion of Senior Counsel, has been guiding the Commission in its preparations and its consultations with the Minister of COGTA and the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Elections, among others.
The central view of this opinion is that a postponement to the elections would only be possible following a statutory amendment. With this in mind the Commission has proceeded to plan for the holding of Local Government Elections within the current Constitutional timeframe. That being said, the Commission will deliberate on the issues, concerns and suggestions raised by parties to consider how these may be accommodated.
KEY PREPARATIONS FOR LGE 2021
Following the announcement of the date of the Local Government Elections, the Electoral Commission is now able to finalise its key dates and finer planning details for the elections.The first aspect is that of voter registration. The Commission will soon embark on a national voter registration campaign to facilitate and encourage participation in the elections by as many eligible voters as possible. This campaign will include an extensive communication and education drive across multimedia platforms along with targeted interventions aimed specifically at first-time voters. These will include registration initiatives at schools, tertiary education campuses and other opportunities.This campaign will culminate in a national voter registration weekend during which all voting stations will open between 8am and 5pm to allow new voters to register and existing voters to change, update and check their registration details.The dates for this weekend will be announced soon following consultations with various stakeholders.
The Commission reminds voters that there will be only one general voter registration weekend due to resource constraints. We call on all eligible voters – especially first-time voters – to ensure they are ready to registered to participate including obtaining ID documents where necessary. We also urge all parties, the media, civil society and others to work with us to promote and encourage participation among all South Africans so that we can continue the increase in turnout which we have seen during the most recent local government elections. Other key preparations will include finalising candidate nominations for ward and PR lists for the more than 10 000 seats to be contested for 205 local municipalities, 8 metros and 44 district councils. This will primarily be managed via the Online Candidate Nomination System. Candidate nominations are scheduled to take place during August and September.
Finally, arrangements will also be put in place for special votes. In this regard the Electoral Commission notes proposals by a number of political parties for all opportunities to be explored – including extending eligibility for special voting – to reduce congestion at voting stations on Election Day. The Commission will consider all possible measures within the legal framework and will announce further details on special voting in due course.
Let me use this opportunity to announce the results of the 14 by-elections contested yesterday.
The overall results are as follows:• The African National Congress (ANC) retained ten seats and won two seats from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) respectively• The Inkatha Freedom Party and the Democratic Alliance each retained one seat• The average voter turnout was 40.65 percent which compares well with the average voter turnout for by-elections since the previous Local Government Elections in 2016 which is 38.73 percent.• This bodes well for this year’s Local Government Elections
Further details of each by-election and the new councillors is available on a separate media release issued earlier today.
This year’s elections would be among the most challenging yet faced by the Electoral Commission, political parties, candidates and all other stakeholders. Campaigning and mobilizing citizens, and conducting registration and elections in-person as required by our legal framework presents unique challenges to us all under COVID-19 conditions.But we have examples of successfully overcoming these from countries around the world – and our own by-elections - to emulate and build on. And together we have the technology, the tools, the people and the passion to overcome these challenges.
The Commission is confident that with the support and cooperation of all political parties, candidates, state departments and agencies, civil society, business and labour organisations, traditional leaders, religious and cultural organisations, the media and tens of millions of voters and citizens that our democratic journey of the past 27 years will remain on track.
ENDSISSUED BY THE ELECTORAL COMMISSIONEnsuring free and fair elections
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