IEC Prepares for Fair and Free Elections

By Jessie Taylor

As South Africans head to the polls later this month, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has said that it is prepared for the country’s seventh democratic election. The elections will take place on Wednesday 29 May and more than 27.79 million voters – the highest since the dawn of democracy in South Africa, are eligible to cast their votes in the 2024 National and Provincial Elections. In preparation for the elections, the IEC has begun printing the ballot papers and has unveiled details such as security plans and the process for special voting.

Candidates And Voting Stations

Among the work done by the IEC has been to host the signing of the Electoral Code of Conduct by political parties and independent candidates contesting the elections. This year, 70 political parties and 11 independent candidates have been published by the IEC as final contestants in the elections. There are over 14 903 candidates vying for 887 seats in the National and Provincial Legislatures.

“The finalisation of the list of candidates contesting seats in the 2024 National and Provincial Elections means that the Commission can now go ahead with the printing of ballot papers for the elections. The 27.79 million registered voters will receive three ballot papers to elect candidates to represent them in the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures,” the IEC said.

The Electoral Commission has also published the list of addresses of the 23 292 voting stations that will be used in these elections, as well as the route for mobile voting stations. The highest number of voting stations will be in Kwazulu-Natal (4 974), Eastern Cape (4 868) and Limpopo (3 216). The full list can be found on the Electoral Commission’s website.

Special Votes

The application process for special votes closed on 3 May. These include home visits, which cater for voters unable to travel to voting stations, and special votes at voting stations for those unable to be at the voting station on Election Day. Special voting will be conducted on the two days preceding Election Day, on 27 and 28 May 2024. Special votes will also be administered at South Africa’s diplomatic missions abroad to service 58 000 registered voters. While the electoral administration demands that voters cast ballots at the voting station of registration, the IEC’s framework allows for voters to vote at other voting stations where they are not registered if such voters notify the Commission.

Notification for this purpose will close on 17 May 2024.

Security For Voters

The government has assured citizens that the elections will be conducted in a safe and secure environment. Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise says: “As the government, we want to issue a stern warning to anyone with intentions to disrupt the elections that law enforcement officers will deal with them decisively and will put them behind bars.”

Minister Modise assured the public of the readiness of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster in executing its mandate of protecting the public, ailing with the country’s strategic installations and infrastructure during the election period. “We will do everything in our power to protect all those who want to exercise their Constitutional right to vote,” Minister Modise said.

Calling For A Free And Fair Election

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for a free and fair election and for South Africans to uphold the nation’s reputation for electoral integrity. According to the 2023 Electoral Integrity Global Report, South Africa ranks third highest on the continent when it comes to perceptions of electoral integrity. The report is made of up expert assessments of electoral integrity in 169 countries around the world, using indicators such as electoral laws and procedures, voting processes, campaign financing, media coverage and vote counting.

“Over the past 30 years we have held elections that are not only free and fair, but also peaceful and free of intimidation. Dire predictions of South Africa ‘regressing into violence’ or ‘democratic backsliding’ that regrettably remain a common feature of some reportage and analysis have been proven wrong time and again,” said President Rampahosa. The President added that despite its many challenges, our democracy is in good health.

“It is up to us all to ensure that this year’s election is a success in our ongoing journey of democratic consolidation. It is up to us all, whether as government, political parties, candidates, voters, the media or civil society organisations, to play our part by ensuring that our actions and words inspire faith in our democracy. We must continue to work together to ensure that nothing undermines the integrity of our elections,” he said.

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