Malema says local government elections should be postponed to save lives
The government’s decision to forge ahead with the fifth municipal elections later this year during a global pandemic was a reckless one which would culminate in an avalanche of Covid-19 super-spreader events.
For this reason, the EFF called on the Electoral Commission (IEC) to cease all election-related activities. This was the view expressed by EFF leader Julius Malema during a media briefing on Thursday.
“We reiterate our call despite our own readiness for the 2021 elections to be postponed in the interest of saving millions of lives. The duty to preserve lives is the highest of duties. People must be alive before they can vote and be voted for.”
Malema said his party ideally wanted the elections to be postponed to 2024. If that failed, they should take place next year, depending on the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He warned that if the elections went ahead this year, they would not be free and fair for all, as enshrined in the constitution.
“There will no free and fair elections in SA when one of its critical components, called campaigning, is suspended according to Covid-19 regulations.
“We call on the IEC to cease activities regarding 2021 local government elections and give space to the Moseneke review committee to do its work. If the IEC is ready now it will still be ready when the justice concludes his report. Whatever the conclusion, as things stand, Covid-19 regulations for gatherings are a direct threat to the constitutional human rights provision to freedom of assembly,” he said.
The IEC last month appointed former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke to lead a review process to determine whether it will be possible to hold free and fair elections.
Malema said the party would express its stance on the elections to Moseneke.
He expressed confidence in Moseneke’s ability to deliver an objective report on the feasibility, commending the work he did on the Marikana massacre.
The sentiments come a day after IEC chair Glen Mashinini said they were “technically ready” to host the elections. He was speaking at the launch of the 2021 municipal elections mobilisation campaign.
Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the elections would take place on October 27 after extensive consultations with the IEC, political parties and co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Action SA, leader Herman Mashaba is among those who welcomed government’s decision.
The people who are saying elections must go on are people who are not prepared to comply with Covid-19 regulations. They are prepared to compromise the lives of our people because they have an uncontrollable love for powerEFF leader Julius Malema
However, Malema said: “The people who are saying elections must go on are people who are not prepared to comply with Covid-19 regulations. They are prepared to compromise the lives of our people because they have an uncontrollable love for power.”
He said if government goes ahead, the EFF would not “chase away” their members from exercising their rights even if this meant violating Covid-19 regulations.
He slammed the integrity of the IEC and said its attitude was unfortunate and signalled “political protection”.
Malema said if he had his way, local and national elections would be held in a single election in 2024.
“We hold elections every second year. It is too much and it’s expensive. Politicians can’t concentrate on their jobs because they must be permanently campaigning. Where have you seen a country like that? Where do you get time to work?”