The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes Justice Dikgang Moseneke’s report recommending that the 2021 Local Government Elections be postponed until February 2022.The Federations approves of these recommendations under the circumstances because the COVID-19 pandemic is ravaging the country, and it is obvious that the local elections cannot be held safely in October as previously announced.
The vaccine roll out will not have reached the necessary 67% population immunity level by then and the social nature of election campaigns and voting procedures, on the election day itself, are an enormous super spreader risk. Proceeding with elections in October would risk elections becoming a trigger for a devastating 4th wave of infections that would overwhelm an already battered healthcare system.
The disaster management regulations necessary to curbing the pandemic and saving lives also make it impossible for political parties to fully campaign. Free and fair elections are not possible under such restrictions.
A postponement to February provides sufficient space for the acceleration of the vaccination programme to ensure that the 67% population immunity target is met by the end of December 2021. This will make it possible for political parties to campaign in an atmosphere that is free and fair.
These municipal elections cannot be postponed indefinitely, though, when so many of these municipalities are on the verge of collapse. Last Friday, Moody’s downgraded the credit of five South African regional and local government authorities, and in the process warned that these municipalities will likely struggle to meet future obligations due to falling revenue, as cash-strapped consumers default on taxes
The affected municipalities include the City of Johannesburg, City of Cape Town, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality, and the City of uMhlathuze municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.It is now important that the IEC urgently apply to the Constitutional Court for a condonation to postpone the elections until February 2021. Time is of the essence as there are constitutional requirements and health matters at stake.
A new date must be set as soon as possible, so South Africans can have clarity and certainty about the wayforward.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Cell: 060 975 6794