/ 18 November 2023

IEC launches voter registration, surpasses its previous highest record of daily activity

(Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has broken its previous record for its highest registration activity on a single day, with over 26 000 voters registering for next year’s general elections.

“We can confirm as of 18 November 2023 that 26 000 voters have registered on the online portal — we are on course to surpass the highest registration activity ever recorded on a single day, the (previous) highest being 15 000,” the IEC’s deputy chief executive for electoral operations Masego Shiburi told a media briefing on Saturday.

The IEC launched its voter registration campaign, where eligible citizens will this weekend be able to lodge their details at 23 296 stations across the country for the 2024 national and provincial elections.

“We [are] approaching this weekend with a measure of expectation that this weekend will once again provide us significant registration activity,” IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said.

To help reach the IEC’s target of one million registered voters this weekend, the department of home affairs has agreed to open its 300 offices nationwide to facilitate the issuing of new identity documents or replacement documents to South Africans who are eligible to register.

According to recently released Census 2022 data, South Africa’s population has grown to 62 million people, with an estimated 39.7 million being of voting age. However, the voters’ roll currently stands at 26.2 million, representing only 66% of the estimated voting age population. 

Answering questions about safety concerns around the registration process, the IEC’s Granville Abrahams said voter management devices which were first introduced in 2021 were proving effective.

“We have been using this system for the last two years and it is proving, especially this election, to be extremely popular,” he said.

Registration stations will be operating between 8am and 5pm on both Saturday, 18 November and Sunday 19 November. Voters can also opt to register online on the IEC’s website (www.elections.org.za).

At Saturday’s briefing, the IEC said it was still in the process of launching a platform for South African citizens abroad to register to vote.

“Unfortunately, those that are abroad can’t use the same system that we have inside of the country because the requirements for them are different in addition to their ID and they are required to have a valid passport and on the online platform we are providing for both those documents to be uploaded,” said Abrahams.

The electoral body said three consecutive days of overseas registration would take place in January 2024 at South African embassies and missions abroad for in-person registration, on dates yet to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) on Saturday denounced what it called an “inappropriate” ANC election campaign poster circulating on social media platform X, bearing the image of Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya.

“The OCJ wishes to inform the public that this inappropriate use of the Deputy Chief Justice’s image in an election campaign poster was not authorised by Deputy Chief Justice Maya or the OCJ,” it said in a statement posted on X.

“For the record, Deputy Chief Justice Maya is not a member of the ANC or any other political party.”

Last month, IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said he had been in discussions with President Cyril Ramaphosa about setting a date between May and August 2024 for next year’s vote.

Mamabolo said the National Assembly and the nine provincial legislatures’ terms of office would conclude in the middle of May 2024. The seventh parliament of the democratic era must be elected within 90 days of that date.

The ruling party said it regretted any offence caused to Maya after the poster was put on its X page without her consent. 

“We intended to celebrate the significant progress and transformation made in all areas of society, including the judiciary, where Justice Maya is widely respected,” it said.