The Electoral Commission has written to Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi requesting that he facilitates a request to the president asking for election day, Monday, 1 November, to be declared a public holiday.

This intervention is aimed at affording all voters an equal footing to participate in the elections without being encumbered by business and employment considerations on the day of voting, the commission said in a statement on Thursday (16 September)

“Participation in the local government elections is important as municipal councils play a crucial role in providing services that directly affect people on a daily basis.

“Electoral participation which is impossible without registration provides an opportunity to shape the local affairs of communities.

“Local government will be strengthened by the participation of sectors of our society, especially by the youth. We, therefore, call on every eligible voter to register over the weekend and for those who have moved or changed address to use this unique opportunity to amend their registration details.”

Should Ramaphosa approve the request, it would take total public holidays in 2021 to 15 – including an additional two days off to celebrate public holidays which fall over a weekend.

The Public Holidays Act (Act No 36 of 1994) determines that whenever any public holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following on it shall be a public holiday.

This means that 22 March 2021 and 27 December 2021 are additional public holidays in terms of the Act. The public holidays for 2021, according to the official government proclamation, are as follows:

  • 1 January: New Year’s Day
  • 21 March: Human Rights Day
  • 22 March: Public holiday
  • 2 April: Good Friday
  • 5 April: Family Day
  • 27 April: Freedom Day
  • 1 May: Workers’ Day
  • 16 June: Youth Day
  • 9 August: National Women’s Day
  • 24 September: Heritage Day
  • 1 November: National elections*
  • 16 December: Day of Reconciliation
  • 25 December: Christmas Day
  • 26 December: Day of Goodwill
  • 27 December: Public holiday

Consecutive public holidays can have a significant impact on working arrangements and shifts, especially in workplaces that run a 24/7/365 operation. And while a ‘day off’ can impact economic productivity, it can help stave off fatigue-related issues.

With the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions likely to remain in place until the end of 2021, businesses should also be aware of the dates that workers are likely to apply for days off to maximise their leave time.

Employees are also likely to take advantage of the long weekends – with 1 November set to fall on a Monday in 2021.

*First appeared in BusinessTech