IEC Commemorates 30 Years of Democracy in South Africa, Prepares for 2024 Elections

South Africa's 2024 general election marks 30 years of democracy, featuring the highest number of parties and independent candidates. The new 3-ballot system aims to ensure a smooth voting process, but presents challenges in voter education.

Israel Ojoko
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IEC Commemorates 30 Years of Democracy in South Africa, Prepares for 2024 Elections

IEC Commemorates 30 Years of Democracy in South Africa, Prepares for 2024 Elections

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa is making final preparations for the general election on 29 May 2023, which will mark 30 years of democracy in the country.

This election will feature the highest number of political parties in the history of South Africa's democratic elections, and for the first time, independent candidates will be permitted to contest at the provincial and national levels.

To accommodate this change, voters will be given three ballots instead of the usual two: a national ballot, a regional ballot, and a provincial ballot. Voters can vote for different parties or independent candidates on each ballot. The IEC has also made provisions for special voting on 27 and 28 May for citizens in South Africa, and on 17 or 18 May for citizens outside the country.

The new three-ballot voting system is seen as a significant milestone in South Africa's young democracy, but it could also cause confusion among voters. The IEC is working to educate the public on the changes and ensure a smooth voting process.

Why this matters: The 2024 general election is a historic moment for South Africa, marking three decades of democracy since the end of apartheid. The inclusion of independent candidates and the new three-ballot system represent important steps in the country's democratic evolution, but also present challenges in terms of voter education and logistics.

As part of its preparations, the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs will undertake a two-day oversight visit to Gauteng to visit two Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) offices and the IEC. The purpose of the visit is to assess the IEC's readiness for the 2024 national and provincial elections, which will be the first where the IEC will implement provisions of the Electoral Amendment Act that allow for independent candidates to contest. The committee will assess the functioning of Voter Management Devices and be briefed on logistical, regulatory, and staff preparations for the elections.

The committee will also visit VFS offices to get a first-hand look at operations, particularly in light of the visa and permit adjudication backlog. "The IEC has made notable progress in preparing for this historic election," said a spokesperson for the commission. "We are confident that the voting process will be free, fair, and transparent, and that all South Africans will have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote."

Key Takeaways

  • South Africa's 2023 general election marks 30 years of democracy.
  • Highest number of political parties, first-time independent candidates allowed.
  • New 3-ballot system: national, regional, and provincial ballots.
  • IEC working to educate voters and ensure smooth voting process.
  • Parliament to assess IEC's readiness, including for independent candidates.