South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission said it favours rescheduling a municipal vote that was due to take place in October, after a panel headed by a retired judge recommended a delay due to the coronavirus.
The electoral body will approach either the Electoral Court or the Constitutional Court for approval to postpone the plebiscite. A delay would be the first since white minority rule ended in 1994.
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who was asked by the IEC to investigate the feasibility of staging the elections, said in a report published this week that it was unlikely to be free and fair if the existing timetable was adhered to.
“The commission unanimously accepts the report,” drafted by Moseneke, its chairman Glen Mashinini told reporters in a briefing in Pretoria, the capital. “We don’t know whether the court will grant the request” for a delay and a new date for the election can’t be determined until it rules, he said.
South Africa has more than 160 000 active Covid-19 cases and is grappling with a third wave of infections. Campaigning and voting could result in mass gatherings and undermine efforts to bring the pandemic under control.