South Africans will be taking to the polls for the sixth local government elections on 27 October 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office has announced.
“The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will follow the necessary legal process to proclaim the date and undertake other requirements,” the Presidency said in a statement.
“The President urges eligible – and especially first-time voters – to ensure they are registered to participate in the elections which provide the basis for development and service delivery closest to where citizens live”
Local government elections will not be postponed
It isn’t clear how other political parties will react to the news. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had announced that the local government elections would be held sometime between August and November – which was in response to a call by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), for the polls to be held in 2024.
“Under the current conditions, there will not be free, fair, transparent, and safe elections in South Africa. Our demand for the postponement of elections does not mean that we are afraid to take the ruling party in different municipalities head-on,” the EFF had said the time.
When the IEC appeared before Parliament’s portfolio committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, it said it was simply not possible to heed the EFF’s call. This is particularly because municipal councils’ five-year term ends on 4 August and as per the Constitution, elections must be held within 90 days, which meant by 1 November.
“In our view, there are no constitutional mechanisms to allow for an election beyond 90 days – the only avenue that we think is available is for an amendment to the Constitution,” the IEC’s Masego Sheburi said.
“On this understanding, the posture of the commission is that it must stand ready to deliver free and fair elections whenever they are called, in any case, not beyond the 1st of November.”
In his capacity as leader of the ANC, President Cyril Ramaphosa said as a party, they would not support the calls for the local government elections to be held at a later time.
“There are those who say that this year’s elections must be postponed but as the ANC, we want the elections to take place now because we are ready,” Ramaphosa said.