IRR launches petition to #SaveTheVote

26 July 2021 - The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) calls on South Africans to support the petition launched today to oppose the postponement of the 2021 local government elections scheduled for October. The third Covid-19 wave has crested, as scientists predicted, making the case for conducting constitutionally mandated regular elections plain.

The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) calls on South Africans to support the petition launched today to oppose the postponement of the 2021 local government elections scheduled for October. The third Covid-19 wave has crested, as scientists predicted, making the case for conducting constitutionally mandated regular elections plain.
 
The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) announced on Friday that it would approach the courts for an order postponing the 27 October poll in the light of its report, written by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke. The report concluded that, in light of Covid-19 restrictions, it would not be “reasonably possible” to host free and fair elections, and that the ballot be postponed to no later than February 2022.
 
Last week, the IRR challenged the report in a letter to the IEC, arguing that, contrary to IEC report’s conclusions, it would be possible to hold free and fair elections this year. The IRR pointed out that 140 countries across the world had held elections during the pandemic without these polls causing a spike in infections, and, moreover, that medical evidence indicated that more lives could be at risk were the election to be postponed to February 2022, as this could well coincide with a fourth wave of infections.
 
Over and above the scientific arguments, South Africa’s democracy is still in its infancy, and – especially in the light of the living memory of the disenfranchisement of the majority of South Africans – it is critical that the country sustain its constitutional commitment to the primary mechanism of holding the government to account, especially when the government has shown itself to be so willing to evade accountability.
 
We agree with constitutional scholar Pierre de Vos who wrote recently: “Because regular elections are a founding value of our constitutional democracy, it is my view that elections should only ever be postponed past the five-year term in the most exceptional circumstances.” (https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-06-28-covid-19-and-the-october-local-elections-there-are-no-good-choices-only-bad-or-worse-options/)
 
If 140 other countries have been able to hold elections without an increase in infections, then South Africa can, too.
 
Said IRR Campaign Officer Duwayne Esau: “Countries who give up their freedoms for safety often end up with neither. Throughout history we have seen how countries who subvert their constitutions by postponing elections devolve into authoritarian states. Postponing the election would, no doubt, suit the ANC and its partners, but I am sure I speak for all freedom-loving South Africans when I say it does not suit us and we will not stand for it.”
 
If you would like to add your voice to the petition and help us fight for your right to vote, you can do so here.

 
Media contacts: Duwayne Esau, IRR Campaign Officer – 081 700 0302; duwayne@irr.org.za
Gabriel Crouse, IRR Head of Campaigns – 082 510 0360; gabriel@irr.org.za
Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za
Kelebogile Leepile Tel: 079 051 0073 Email: kelebogile@irr.org.za

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