Moseneke sets tight deadline for inquiry into whether October elections can be free, fair and safe

Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke has promised to make all submissions to the inquiry available publicly

Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke. File photo.
Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke. File photo.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

Former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke has given himself about seven weeks to complete his inquiry into whether SA can hold free, fair and safe local government elections later this year.

He has also promised to make all submissions to the inquiry available publicly.

Last week the Electoral Commission of SA appointed Moseneke to oversee the inquiry amid concerns that the October elections could be  hampered by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions that limit full interaction between political parties and their supporters.

“This is the first time in the history of our nascent democracy that we have faced such extraordinary circumstances,” he said at the time of his appointment.

On Thursday, after meeting parties represented in the IEC's national party liaison committee, Moseneke pledged to have his report completed as quickly as possible.

“It is our plan that the final report will be handed to the Electoral Commission by July 21 2021, before the date of the proclamation of the local government elections,” he said in a statement.

He said the “salient features” of the inquiry's terms of reference were:

  • “To inquire into, make findings and report on, and make recommendations concerning the likelihood that the Electoral Commission would be able to ensure that the elections will be free and fair, in view of (i) the challenges posed by the Covid-19‑19 pandemic, and (ii) the measures promulgated by the government to curb the continued spread of the pandemic”; and
  • “To indicate additional measures that the Electoral Commission may be required to implement to realise free and fair elections within the context of the pandemic.”

From Friday, he said, people will be invited to make submissions. This would be followed by preliminary submissions by the chief electoral officer on June 4, and then “substantive submissions” a week later, on June 11.

The ministries of health and Cogta will be invited to make submission from Friday May 28.

After this, from Friday June 4, said Moseneke, other stakeholders would be invited to contribute. These included non-governmental health institutions and medical experts involved in the management of the pandemic, political parties at national and local government spheres, and electoral stakeholders such as organisations involved in electoral monitoring and electoral research.

“This matter is of obvious public concern and importance. For that reason, this inquiry will be as transparent as possible, and the submissions made to it, both orally and in writing, will be made accessible to all stakeholders and the public.

“Should any member of the public or civic organisations choose to make submissions, they may notify us and, in any event, make submissions not later than Friday June 18 2021.  Details of the website of the inquiry, as well as various means for the public to make submissions, will be made known in the near future,” said Moseneke.

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