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Unpacking constitutional impacts of the Vuwani impasse

A constitutional crisis is looming in Limpopo as Vuwani residents vow to block the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) from holding municipal elections in the troubled area on August 3.

 

Vuwani has been shut down since April after losing a High Court bid to remain part of the Makhado Municipality.

Residents are still adamant that no voting will take place next week following failed secret meetings between government, traditional leaders and various other stakeholders.

Speaking on SAfm, Constitutional Law Expert Shadrack Gutto says while residents in Vuwani have the constitutional right to refrain from voting, it should not infringe on the rights of those who choose to partake in the election.

Gutto says it is unconstitutional for people to use violence or intimidation to deter people from voting.

“They also have a right to choose not to vote. Therefore to say they are boycotting (elections) is not a violation of the constitution as long as they don’t use violence or intimidate on anyone…that would be a violation and it is also a crime to intimidate and threaten people,” adds Gutto.

Government needs to speed up its efforts in resolving the crisis in Vuwani.

Gutto says the demarcation stalemate in Vuwani not only has implication on elections, but also infringes on the constructional right for learners to have access to education.

Schooling in the Vuwani area has been interrupted due to the violence stemming from the stalemate.

More than 20 schools were burnt down during the protracted strike.

While a catch-up programme for matric learners has been put into place, Gutto says government needs to speed up its efforts in resolving the crisis in Vuwani to further prevent learners from getting the education that they need and deserve.

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