IEC welcomes level 1 restrictions, saying it readies everyone for local government elections

ANC supporters gather in pre-Covid times. The Electoral Commission of SA has welcomed the move to lockdown level 1, saying this would open the door for political party campaigning ahead of the municipal elections.
ANC supporters gather in pre-Covid times. The Electoral Commission of SA has welcomed the move to lockdown level 1, saying this would open the door for political party campaigning ahead of the municipal elections.
Image: ANC via Twitter / #GautengANC

The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) on Monday welcomed the decision to move the country to lockdown level 1, saying this would open the door for political party campaigning.

Later in 2021, the country will go to the polls for the local government elections. But before then, several by-elections have been scheduled for next month and mid-May.

In a statement on Monday, the commission said that President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement on Sunday night that the country would move to level 1 `“has opened the way for the resumption of some political activities”.

Gatherings of 100 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor events are now permitted under the new Covid-19 regulations.

“The relaxation of the restrictions paves the way for the holding of by-elections for municipal ward vacancies which arose since the last by-election in early December. The outstanding by-elections scheduled to be held on April 21 and May 19 will help to 'clear the decks' of vacancies ahead of the local government elections scheduled for between August 4 and November 1,” the statement said.

According to the commission, 45 by-elections across 37 municipalities in all nine provinces were scheduled in the next two months. In total, 362,431 registered voters would be affected by the by-elections.

“The resumption of by-elections is therefore one of the final opportunities ahead of the local government elections for the commission, political parties, independent candidates and other stakeholders to test their protocols for campaigning, voter registration, voting and counting of ballots while maintaining Covid-19 safety measures,” it said.

The commission said it was able to conduct free, fair and safe by-elections in November and December last year during the previous level 1 restrictions and remained confident “it can conduct further by-elections under the same conditions”.

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