Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has urged South African aged 18 and above to visit the country’s 23 146 voting stations at the weekend to register to vote at the 1 November municipal elections.
The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) will at the weekend hold voter registration between 8am and 5pm. Prospective voters can also use the opportunity to verify their voter registration details, she said.
Speaking in her capacity as chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Local Government Elections, the Minister made the call in a statement on Tuesday.
On 3 September, the Constitutional Court dismissed an IEC application for the postponement of the elections, ruling that the polls should take place as per the legal timeframes.
The IEC in May appointed former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to lead the process of evaluating the impact of COVID-19 on conditions conducive for free and fair Local Government Elections on 27 October 2021.
In his report, Moseneke found that holding the elections within the Constitutionally mandated 90 day period was “not reasonably possible” as they were unlikely to be held in a free and fair manner. He recommended that the elections be held no later than February next year.
Subsequently, after consultation with the IEC, Dlamini-Zuma, last week determined that elections will take place on 01 November 2021.
“The IEC has thus determined that a physical registration weekend is required ahead of the election,” the Ministry said in a statement.
It said: “Following the voter registration weekend, on September 20, 2021, the Minister will proclaim November 1st as the date of the 2021 Local Government Elections, as required by the law which stipulates that elections must be held within 90 days of the end of a five-year term of local government.
“The Minister encourages all eligible South Africans, particularly youth and first-time voters, to participate as active citizens and supporters of democracy by registering to vote in the upcoming 2021 Local Elections.”
The Ministry said this was a constitutionally guaranteed opportunity for citizens to elect members of municipal councils in their respective wards to represent their voices in local governance for the next five years.
“We all have a civic duty of registering to vote for the local government elections. Our vote in local elections is significant because it renews the mandate of local government and keeps the flame of democracy burning brightly as we continue to strive for a better tomorrow and a brighter future for all citizens of our democratic country,” the Ministry said.
Dlamini-Zuma said: “As we prepare to go out to various voting stations, let us remember that COVID-19 is still a part of us, despite the sustained decline in infections across the country over the last few weeks.
“We should still adhere to all protocols so that we can protect ourselves, loved ones and communities. Let us remember to wear a mask at all times, social distance, wash hands with soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer.”
In conjunction with health and disaster management agencies, the IEC performed a detailed review to ensure that mitigating measures are in place to ensure that elections can be held safely. The IEC also drew heavily on the experiences of over a hundred countries and territories around the world that have successfully held elections under COVID-19.
She said it was important to acknowledge the “unparalleled circumstances” this year’s elections will be held under due to COVID-19 with the only solution being vaccination.
“We welcome the fact that over a quarter of all adult South Africans have received at least one vaccine dose and more than 7 million people are fully vaccinated, however we need to do more.
“We urge people to vaccinate in an effort to defeat COVID-19 in order for us to go back to our normal lives, as the chance of new and more dangerous variants emerging is far greater if more people are still not vaccinated,” said the Minister. – SAnews.gov.za