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We remain on track to hold municipal elections next year: IEC

The IEC says it is on track to hold local government elections next year.
The IEC says it is on track to hold local government elections next year.

The Electoral Commission (IEC) says it is on track to hold local government elections next year.

This is despite fears that the commission may not be ready due to the threat posed by Covid-19.

The possibility has prompted two of the country's 'big three' political parties, the EFF and ANC to initiate a debate on the postponement of the elections. The two parties are seemingly in agreement on the need to postpone next year's elections to 2024 and come up with a new framework for a single election for all spheres of government.

The EFF was the first to call for a single election.

The ANC, after a meeting of its national working committee last week, has also now officially started discussing a similar proposal internally.

A ruling of the Constitutional Court last week, which allows for independent candidates to stand for both national and provincial elections, has also sparked a bigger debate on changing the Electoral Act.

But in a statement on Tuesday, IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela poured cold water on any suggestions that the commission wasn't ready for elections or that it supported a postponement.

“To the extent that these reports attribute the postponement of elections beyond the constitutionally permitted window period, these reports are incorrect,” said Bapela.

She said the IEC had approached the Electoral Court to allow it to postpone by-elections on account of the effects of Covid-19 beyond the constitutionally allowed 90-day period.

“The Electoral Court granted the postponements as requested by the Electoral Commission.

“As required in law, the municipal elections will be proclaimed by the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, after consultations with the Electoral Commission,” said Bapela.

She said the commission had begun consultations with Dlamini-Zuma.

“It is with this understanding that media reports suggesting that the Electoral Commission has proposed the amalgamation of national, provincial and municipal elections into a single event are incorrect.

“Holding a single general election for all spheres of government each five years and electronic voting are among the potential considerations for parliament,” said Bapela.

She said stakeholders, including political parties, media and civil society, were however free to engage in the ensuing policy dialogue.

“These matters are not a prerogative of the Electoral Commission but require a collaborative effort and national consensus,” she added.

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