By elections: IEC in talks with CoGTA over 2021 local government elections, Newsline

The IEC says it is engaged in ongoing consultations with the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs regarding the exact dates that South Africans will cast their votes for the 2021 local government elections.

The commission’s chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo, said details about the next registration drive for the 2021 local government elections depended on these consultations with the government.

The IEC holds a series of registration drives ahead each election.

Mamabolo was briefing the media on Monday regarding the IEC’s state of readiness for Wednesday’s by-elections in 95 wards across the country.

The by-election numbers are larger this time around because of the coronavirus pandemic which led to the country going into lockdown.

These elections will be the first test of whether the IEC can hold elections under Covid-19 restrictions.

He stressed that voting would be safe and that health and safety protocols will be followed by staff and voters.

According to Mamabolo, by law, local government elections will have to be held within a 90-day window between August and November 2021.

“In law, the elections will have to be conducted between the early part of August and the early part of November.

Within that 90 day period, an election will have to be held. The commission has started consultations with the ministry of Cogta which has the responsibility of calling those elections. Consultations have started but are yet to be concluded. So the scheduling of the next registration weekend is dependent on how those consultations continue,” he said.

The IEC also faces another challenge as its finances have been constrained over the years.

Mamabolo highlighted that the Commission would be asking for financial assistance from the ministry of finance to help it meet its mandate.

The pandemic has also posed extra costs for the IEC with R3 million already being spent on personal protective equipment for Wednesday’s by-elections.

Mamabolo said another disadvantage of budget cuts was that the IEC was unable to conduct pilot projects to help improve election methods.

“The IEC would have loved to have a pilot of select wards, so as to gather insights on what works and what does not work. To create lessons for the national policy discussion on some kind of introduction of voting technology within voting stations,” Mamabolo said.