‘’Everyone has the right to take part in the local government of their area and shall have an equal opportunity to become a candidate for election.
Everyone has the right to join, or together with others to establish, a political party or organization for the purpose of competing in an election.’’
Those are the words of the former member of the Free State provincial legislature, Isaac Mzwandile Hleko as he was explaining the criteria for participation in local government shall be determined in accordance with the constitution and why the upcoming provincial and municipal elections should not happen.
According to Hleko Coronavirus pandemic not only threatens the health of the population, and major sections of the economy, it also challenges elections throughout the democratic world.
The fear of becoming infected with the virus may cause selective participation, where a non-negligible fraction of voters, particularly those with higher health risks may abstain from voting unless special provisions are made available.
Those are some of the reasons Hleko believes the upcoming provincial and municipal should be strapped.
In an exclusive interview with JHR, Hleko said his call to postpone the elections is informed by the new normal developments and the empirical evidence for the consequences of COVID-19 for electoral participation.
‘’Reaffirming the significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which establish that the authority to govern shall be based on the will of the people as expressed in periodic and genuine elections,
Acknowledging and endorsing the fundamental principles relating to periodic free and fair elections that have been recognized by our country constitution founding principles and bill of rights instruments, including the right of everyone to freely vote representatives.
Those two issues are very important more especially during pandemics in deciding to continue or postpone elections. I just feel these issues were not really considered by IEC even when the former deputy chief justice advised that we postpone local elections.
On the other hand, National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) Dr Harry Moultrie believes that the political activities around the local government elections on November 1 are unlikely to lead to the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections.
The NICD provides microbiology, virology, epidemiology, surveillance and public health research and training to support the government’s response to communicable disease threats, such as the current pandemic.
“While there will likely be some cluster outbreaks associated with campaign activities related to the elections, it appears unlikely that this will result in resurgence.
Resurgences are the result of the complex interplay of population-level behavior, mandated restrictions, immune protection from prior infections, vaccination coverage and timing, and viral strains.
A few weeks ago, Ramaphosa insisted that the National Coronavirus Command Council’s decision to lower the lockdown restrictions to Level 1 was scientifically and IEC is putting measures in place to ensure that every voter could freely exercise their democratic right without being exposed to unnecessary risk.
Ramaphosa also admitted that staging elections on the 1st of November is a big risk.
“Campaign activities pose the greatest risk to a surge in new infections. Every one of us – from party leaders and organisers to supporters and elections staff – has a responsibility to ensure that the regulations are followed, and all health protocols are observed during the election campaign,” said Ramaphosa