The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has confirmed that it is in communication with President Cyril Ramaphosa to decide the official date for next year’s general elections.
Speaking at the launch of the IEC’s 2024 elections theme “Your Democracy, Own It” on Tuesday, chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said he had been in discussions with Ramaphosa about setting a date between May and August.
Mamabolo said he expected the national and provincial elections to run concurrently, as they have for the past 30 years, and that the IEC was readying itself to host millions of eligible voters at its 23 296 voting stations across the country.
The commission announced 18 and 19 November as the official voter registration weekend.
The commission has set the target of holding 80 000 community events by the time of the elections and has already engaged 2 500 field workers, consisting of municipal outreach co-ordinators and democracy education facilitators.
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.
He said there were more women on the voters’ roll, at 14.4 million, than men at 11.6 million.
Of these women, 6.6 million are aged between 30 and 39 years, making up the highest demographic, according to age. They are followed by the 40 to 49 age group at 5.8 million and then women aged 50 to 59 years at 4.4 million.
At least 3.7 million of all the people on the voters’ roll are aged between 20 and 29, Mamabolo said. Political parties have in the past struggled to attract young people to the ballot.
He added that the IEC had developed a series of programmes to attract younger voters, including animation videos, audio recordings, social media tool kits, infographics and fact sheets, which will be posted on social media platforms.
The commission is awaiting a constitutional court judgment after two challenges to the Electoral Amendment Act. A delay in delivering these judgments will result in delaying elections, the IEC warned on Tuesday.
The Independent Candidates Association, One South Africa and the Rivonia Circle have approached the constitutional court seeking to have the amendment to the act declared unconstitutional and scrapped. They say the new threshold imposed for entry under the amendments will make it impossible for independents to compete in the elections.
The National Assembly passed the Electoral Amendment Bill in October last year, and President Cyril Ramaphosa signed it into law in April.
IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya said the IEC hoped for a ruling from the constitutional court before May. During the wait, he said, the commission would embark on an education campaign to help voters get used to the new ballot paper.
“The commission will continue to strengthen civic and voter education initiatives to make sure that voters are fully informed about their roles and responsibilities in the upcoming elections,” Moepya said.
“This is important because an informed electorate is the bedrock of a thriving democracy.”