The Electoral Commission (IEC) has postponed the voter registration weekend by two weeks due to the third wave of Covid-19 currently impacting the country. In a meeting on Wednesday, the commission decided to reschedule the voter registration weekend from 17-18 July to the weekend of 31 July – 1 August.
The decision was made following after reviewing the current conditions including the rate of infections and hospitalizations over the past seven days and its impact on preparations for the registration weekend.
The commission also considered concerns raised by political parties of proceedings with voter registration as well as warnings from health officials and other experts during last week’s oral submissions before the Moseneke Inquiry, regarding the risks of proceeding with a voter registration weekend under the current lockdown conditions.
Health experts told the inquiry last week that the current third wave of infections was likely to persist until at least the end of the month, and that extension of the lockdown was likely.
“Taking into consideration the various factors including the constitutional timeframe which requires the elections to be held before 1 November 2021 and the minimum period required for the election timetable, the commission resolved to postpone the voter registration weekend to the latest possible date which is 31 July – 1 August.
“The two-week postponement will have a knock-on effect on certain dates and activities associated with the proclamation and election including delaying proclamation by four days until 6 August.”
The commission however said it was confident that successful elections can be held within a reduced election timetable of 82 days rather than the original 86 days.
The IEC is still awaiting the final report of the Moseneke Inquiry into whether the elections can be free and fair if they were to proceed as scheduled on 27 October. The inquiry is led by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke who is scheduled to present his report and its recommendations to the Commission by 21 July 2021.