South Africa Covid-19 tenders
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  • South Africans head to the polls on 1 November for the local government elections.
  • But there are worries that this could turn into a "super-spreader" event, hastening the arrival of the fourth wave of Covid-19.
  • To keep voters and staff safe, the commission is looking to acquire disposable face masks, disinfectant fogging sprays, bottles of hand spray, and sanitiser wipes.
  • These items will need to be delivered by 20 October.
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To protect against the spread of Covid-19 when South Africans go to the polls on 1 November, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has issued tenders for disposable face masks, disinfectant fogging sprays, bottles of hand spray, and sanitiser wipes.

South Africa's sixth round of municipal elections since the dawn of democracy will not be deferred to 2022, despite concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown's impact on political campaigning. This was the recent ruling handed down by the Constitutional Court in response to the IEC's unprecedented bid for postponement.

This year's local government elections will take place under the cloud of Covid-19, with government concerned that the rush of millions of voters to polling stations on 1 November could signal a “super-spreader” event. These worries are compounded by projections of a fourth wave of infections which, unless the uptake of Covid-19 vaccines is dramatically sped up, is likely to arrive in early December.

Now in a scramble to sort out administrative and logistical issues surrounding the elections – including health and safety measures to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 at polling stations – the IEC has issued several tenders.

Suppliers of face masks, sanitisers, and disinfectants have been urged to bid in a tender auction. The details of these bid specifications were published between 9 and 13 September. Most proposals need to be in before 1 October, with the delivery of supplies due 19 days later.

The IEC is looking to acquire 26,000 boxes containing 50 disposable face masks each – a total of 1.3 million individual face masks – "for staff to wear to help curb the spread of the virus at voting stations."

These face masks must be in a pleated style with ear loops and come in two colours: blue or black. They must also have a Bacterial Filter Efficiency (BFE) of 99% and meet specific World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

The IEC also wants 102,211 plastic bottles of hand sanitiser spray, each containing 100ml. This equates to more than 10,000 litres of hand sanitiser spray which will be used at voting stations across the country.

Sprays must contain at least 70% alcohol, be water based, anti-microbial, and anti-viral. The bottles must also be leak-proof and labels – the design still to be finalised by the IEC – will need to be in the form of a vinyl sticker or printed directly on the item.

Canisters of disinfectant fogging spray, which will be used for "effective disinfection at voting stations", are also being sought by the IEC. A total of 126,280 aerosol cannisters, each containing 400ml of a solution containing at least 70% alcohol, will each need to disinfect a closed area of approximately 100 to 150 sqm, without causing corrosion.

The mist needs to dissipate within 15 minutes, but its effect must "remain active to disinfect any bacteria or viruses in the room and surfaces."

Disposable sanitiser wipes are also needed: 20 million of them, according to the IEC's request for proposals. A total of 40,000 buckets, each containing 500 individual sheets of disposable sanitiser wipes, will be deployed to voting stations for use by staff and voters.

The wipes contained in these 5 litre buckets must contain "at least 70% alcohol-based formula that has the ability to disinfect and kill at least 99.9% bacteria." The buckets themselves must be recyclable.

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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