The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says 40 by-elections will take place in 25 municipalities across the country on Wednesday. Most of the polls will be held in Gauteng. Voters will select new councillors to replace those who have died or who have been recalled by their parties.
The votes on 19 May 2021 will be the penultimate by-elections before the final votes on 30 June 2021. The IEC says by that time it would have covered all the backlogs in by-elections accumulated since 2020 when the lockdown started.
The polls will be preceded by special voting on Tuesday.
“The commission again has approved special votes for those voters who, due to physical conditions, will be unable to go to their station on Wednesday. We have approved a total of 10 700 special votes, 60% of which are home visits. In other words, we will send out teams into homes of those persons because they are unable to go to voting stations. About 40% of those are persons who will vote tomorrow at their voting station because they will be away from their voting station the day of the by-election. So, we are happy that it’s all systems go, everything is in place,” says IEC Deputy CEO Masego Sheburi.
Sheburi says the Commission is not expecting any disruptions to the by-elections, but the police are on standby to assist if necessary.
Effect of COVID-19 on elections
He added that the national coronavirus vaccine roll-out which has entered its second phase this week will not affect operations.
“We do not foresee any impact of the vaccine roll-out on the by-election on special votes and on the by-elections on Wednesday. We hope that it will have a positive spin-off in the medium to long term because the plan of the government is to have 67 % of the population inoculated. So, we hope that if we reach those figures then it will have a positive effect on the psyche of the voting population that they can go out to voting stations with a level of confidence assured in the knowledge that they have been inoculated to safeguard their public health.”
Due to budget cuts, the IEC had to do away with two election registration weekends for the upcoming municipal elections on 27 October. The sole registration weekend is scheduled for 17 and 18 July 2021.
The IEC says it will keep a close eye on COVID-19 infections.
“For us to stand ready to deliver a registration programme on the 17th and 18th preparation we must start well ahead of time. We are preparing on the basis that we will be able to have a registration weekend. The commission is on record having stated that if the cases of COVID-19 reach such a stage that the Department of Health determines that they are uncontrollable the Commission would have to reassess its position at the time and take the necessary measures which may include an approach to the Constitutional Court for the postponement of registration or election period,” says Sheburi.