Voter registration for local elections on October 27 was scheduled to begin today but has been officially postponed by the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, tasked by the IEC to determine whether to delay elections, recommended a one-time deferment of 90 days. Moseneke determined elections would not be free and fair due to the social and economic difficulties associated with the latest surge in COVID-19 cases and the lack of time for political parties to properly prepare.
As the pandemic has curbed political and electoral rights across Africa, the Pan-African Lawyers Union argued that postponing the latest elections further deprives the democratic rights of South African citizens. Other opponents of the IEC’s decision argued it is unconstitutional and sets a bad precedent of allowing election dates to be moved for convenience.
The IEC is in discussions with the constitutional court in an unprecedented but legal maneuver to obtain approval for postponement. If approved, an outbreak of violence is extremely likely. Recent mass protests and lootings are evidence of growing frustration amongst South African voters. Similarly, varying factions within the ruling ANC party often engage in violence before local elections.
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Alan is an analyst with the Current Developments team, focusing on security and politics, particularly within the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and Africa. He contributes regularly to the Daily Brief.