The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) will present its submission on the possibilities of holding the October 2021 local government elections during Covid-19 to Justice Dikgang Moseneke at 14h30 today,29 June 2021.
Justice Moseneke has been tasked by the IEC to investigate the possibilities of holding local government elections in the midst of the pandemic and in particular whether they would pose a risk to the lives of ordinary South Africans, and would they be free and fair given the disaster management restrictions in place.
The Constitution provides two clear guiding principles in this regard. Elections must be held within 90 days of the 5th anniversary of the previous elections. Equally the Bill of Rights enshrines the sanctity of life. COSATU believes that it is critical to always abide by the Constitution, this includes holding elections timeously and holding local government accountable and equally to save lives and livelihoods.
The Federation hopes that it will be possible to hold elections on schedule in October. However, the decision on whether to proceed with the October date or to seek a condonation from the Constitutional Court for a postponement must be guided by science and saving lives. There can be no space for the preferences of politicians in such a momentous decision.
If local elections can be held safely in October and in a manner that it is seen to be free and fair, then they should be held. But, if the pandemic is surging, too few people have been vaccinated, restrictions remain in place that will make free and fair election campaigning impossible, there is insufficient voter registration, and the IEC cannot provide the necessary health and safety measures for elections day; then they must be postponed.
If a postponement is required, then a new election must be set for February 2022 to provide sufficient time to ensure most South Africans would have received their vaccines and to avoid clashing with the December holidays when millions of workers and students return to their homes in the rural areas.
This is a decision that must be handled with the necessary sobriety and not clouded by populist antics nor by false assurances. It is a decision that must be made soon to avoid plunging the country into a constitutional crisis or into an unmanageable 4th wave. Above all, the decision must be guided by the need to save lives.
Issued by COSATU.
For further information please contact: Cde Matthew Parks– COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator– Cell: 082 785 0687