EFF leader Julius Malema has reiterated his party’s call for government to postpone elections and has argued that free and fair elections will not be feasible under lockdown.
“There will be no free and fair elections in South Africa when one of its critical components, campaigning, is suspended according to Covid-19 regulations.”
This is after the EFF boycotted the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) launch of the 2021 municipal elections on Wednesday in protest of the decision to carry on with the elections despite the dangers that come with the Covid-19 third wave.
In a media briefing on Thursday, Malema called on the IEC to cease all election-related activities.
“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 elections were costly and that it would be unfair for parties to go into elections without campaigning, especially the smaller parties which are relatively unknown.
“The people who are saying that 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,” Malema said.
He said if government goes ahead with its plans to hold elections this year the EFF will not “chase away” its members from exercising their rights, even if doing so means violating Covid-19 regulations.
He slammed the integrity of the IEC and said its attitude 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?”
He warned that if the elections went ahead this year they would not be free and fair for all, as enshrined in the Constitution.
“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 feasible to hold free and fair elections.
Malema expressed confidence in Moseneke’s ability to deliver an objective report, commending the work he did on the Marikana massacre.
The sentiments come a day after IEC chair Glen Mashinini said the commission was technically ready for local government elections.
However, Malema accused the IEC of being blinded by its close relationship with the ANC and ANC treasury-general Paul Mashatile.
He also accused the ANC of failing to provide adequate vaccines for the country, adding that for the first time Zimbabwe was doing better than South Africa in that it was vaccinating it population faster.
The red berets leader accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of treating embattled Health Minister Zweli Mkhize with kid gloves after the former did not act against the minister for ordering the wrong vaccines.
Malema also said Mkhize was being let off the hook for his involvement in the Digital Vibes tender saga, in which Mkhize’s family is said to have benefited from an irregular multimillion-rand contract awarded to his close associates by the national health department.
Ramaphosa placed the minister on special leave on Tuesday, but before then Mkhize said his family had agreed to pay back money obtained from the Digital Vibes tender.
Malema pointed out that Mkhize – like several other leaders linked to Ramaphosa who had been found wanting in personal protection equipment corruption claims – was still on the job.
“All of this proves that the Ramaphosa administration is tolerant to corruption and selective in dealing with the corrupt. It also tolerates incompetency, particularly from members of its cabal.”