A commission to look into the feasibility of holding local government elections in October has recommended that they be postponed to February next year.

The commission, led by former deputy chief justice, Dikgang Moseneke, found that elections would not be free and fair, mainly due to the restrictions around gatherings as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The commission said that elections should rather be held in February next year when the threat from Covid is likely to have receded as a result of widespread vaccinations.

The report is not binding on the Independent Electoral Commission. However, if it were to follow the recommendations of the commission it will have to seek approval from a court of a ‘competent jurisdiction’ to push the election back.

The Constitution requires that elections for legislative bodies must be held within 90 days of the expiry of the term of a municipal council. This means that constitutionally municipal elections cannot be held later than early November and it is not clear that there is any constitutional mechanism to allow for a postponement.  

According to BusinessLive medical experts told the commission that holding elections in October could see a spike in infections. It is not clear whether the medical experts were guessing or had time machines which allowed them to travel into the future to be so certain about events in three months’ time.