IEC unveils 'Your Democracy, Own It' theme for 2024 national and provincial elections

Independent Electoral Commission's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sy Mamabolo addressed the launch of the 2024 National and Provincial Elections. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African news Agency (ANA)

Independent Electoral Commission's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sy Mamabolo addressed the launch of the 2024 National and Provincial Elections. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African news Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 24, 2023


The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has officially launched the highly anticipated 2024 provincial and national elections (NPE 2024) under the theme, “Your Democracy, Own It”.

The NPE 2024 will be historic as independent candidates would, for the first time, be able to contest for seats at the national and provincial elections. The law enabling the participation of independent candidates was signed into law in April by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

NPE 2024 also marks 30 years of electoral democracy in the country.

“Every five years, a civic duty falls upon the shoulders of adult South Africans. This is a duty whose importance transcends all others. This duty is the cornerstone of our democratic reality, the bedrock upon which our political system is built,” said IEC Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Sy Mamabolo at the launch in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The sixth National Assembly and the nine provincial legislatures’ terms of office conclude in the middle of May 2024. The seventh Parliament of the democratic era must be elected within 90 days from that date. Mamabolo announced that the window period for South Africa’s national elections stretches from May to the middle of August in 2024.

The authority for setting the election date rests with the President of the Republic after consulting with the Commission. Mamabolo said that while those consultations have commenced, they are yet to be concluded.

With 26.2 million voters already on the voters roll, the IEC announced the first voting registration weekend to be held next month on November 18 and 19.

A second registration weekend would be announced in due course.

The window period for election to take place would be from May to August 2024, and Mamabolo said they anticipate that as has been the case in last three decades, the date of provincial election will be same as the national election.

In presenting the state of readiness in numbers, Mamabolo said 23,269 voting stations have been determined across the country.

At least 95% of the 26.2 million people on the voters roll have a complete address recorded against their name.

Women have greater representation on the voters roll counted at 14.4 million against the number of men who were counted at 11.6 million.

At least 6.6 million of the voters are aged between 30 and 39, counting as the highest number of voters according to age, followed by age category 40 to 49 at 5.8 million and then age category 50 to 59 at 4.4 million.

At least 3.7 million of those on the voters roll are aged between 20 and 29.

Mamabolo reported that so far, 68,000 staff have been taken through a two-module training and will participate in a dry-run this weekend.

The IEC anticipates that the number of voting staff will increase to approximately 300,000 by the election weekend.

Mamabolo said so far, at least 260 tons of registration material and equipment has already been delivered to the nine provincial warehouses. The material will then be dispatched to the local storage sites.

The current estimate of logistical material to be handled for the election itself is 610 tons, excluding ballot papers.

Just under 40,000 Voter Management Devices (VMDs) improve the administrative efficiency have been upgraded and Mamabolo has assured that due to the sometimes problematic internet connectivity, the devices are able to work both in online or offline modes.

Since the launch of the online registration portal in 2021, there has been just over one million transactions processed through the portal, of which 439,000 were new registrations to date.

The majority of new registrations were those aged between 20 and 25.

“We believe that the portal offers citizens a convenient avenue to enlist on the voters’ roll. Of course, we acknowledge a constraint relating to data costs for a significant proportion of society. In this regard, we are engaging with telecommunications companies to examine possibilities of zero-rating this online facility ahead of the election,” he said.

Mamabolo said the IEC has set a target to have about 80,000 community events by the time of elections, and have engaged just under 2,500 field workers consisting of municipal outreach coordinators and democracy education facilitators.

To ensure the IEC reaches the youth demographic, it has developed a series of animation videos, audio recordings, social media tool kits, infographics and fact sheets that will be placed on social media platforms.

It also revamped its official WhatsApp Chatbot which will also be integrated that allow voters to speak to an agent in real time. Voters can send a simple “Hi” to 060 088 0000 on WhatsApp.

And, in an effort to deal with the various harms of disinformation and misinformation on social media, which could impact the credibility of an election, the IEC has partnered with Meta, TikTok, Google and Media Monitoring Africa to cooperate on a framework which will expeditiously evaluate complaints through the Real411 platform.

The framework will allow for the evaluation of social media complaints by a committee of three experts and where veracity is established for referral to the platforms for the possible removal of the fake news.

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