The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) welcomes the tabling of the Report and the recommendations calling for the postponement of the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE) by the former Deputy Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke, in the outcome of the Inquiry into “Ensuring Free and Fair Local Government Elections During Covid-19”. We further appreciate Inquiry’s pragmatism in issuing their findings one day earlier than promised.
We are in agreement that the impact of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic – as well as recent civil unrest in certain parts of the country and the lethargic rollout of the vaccine – would absolutely deny the people a free and fair chance to participate in elections. We believe that our current reality has informed this decision to postpone the LGE. The health and safety of our people must always come first – we must never allow our people to become mere voting fodder.
Although we welcome the recommendation to postpone until February 2022, the IFP reiterates its call for the LGE to be postponed until May 2022 – as we have on previous occasions. This is based not only on the time needed for South Africa to attain herd immunity, but also on the commitments of Parliament linked to the SONA, as well as the 2022 Budget, which are both traditionally scheduled for February.
Although we understand that local government is in a parlous state and that new leadership is needed, this change cannot come at the cost of the lives, livelihoods and the general wellbeing of our people.
If necessary, we are willing to support the amendment of the Constitution, so that this postponement meets all the legal requirements. The people of South Africa formulated the Constitution, and we can collectively amend it – particularly in these previously unanticipated and uncertain circumstances.
Further, if needed, Justice Moseneke could reassess the situation in two to three months’ time.
The IFP would like to place on record that we are in full support of free and fair elections, wherein the majority of South Africans can participate. However, we must create a conducive environment for registration and voting. It is essential that election planning considers the realities on the ground – both in urban and, in particular, rural areas.
Considering the LGE being postponed, we trust the necessary amendments will be made to relook at the dates for the upcoming voter registration weekend, scheduled for 31 July – 1 August.
The IFP now calls on government to accelerate the vaccination drive by, amongst others, keeping vaccination stations open from Monday to Sunday, as well as making use of support from the private sector. With these measures, our population will hopefully reach the desired numbers for herd immunity, and we can then confidently proceed with the LGE.
As we have seen over the past week and a half, the Security Cluster, in particular Crime Intelligence, were caught napping, and were ill-equipped to deal with the violence and unrest in KZN and Gauteng. In the run-up to the LGE, all the Clusters must work closely together, to ensure the safety and security of all South Africans as they head to the polls.
In addition, once a final decision is taken on the LGE dates, we call for at least a three-month notice period for the upcoming elections, to give all political parties sufficient opportunity to prepare, and inter alia to nominate and select their candidates.
The IFP reiterates its call for national calm and a return to unity and social cohesiveness.
Narend Singh, MP
IFP Chief Whip
083 788 5954