News

2024 elections: What to expect

Nearly 28 million South Africans are expected to head to the polls at this year's 2024 national election and choose their government for the next five years.

The Wits School of Governance (WSG) recently hosted the first dialogue as part of a series to address key issues around the 2024 national elections in South Africa.

The series is themed, ‘30 Years of Democratic Governance and the 2024 South African Elections: Taking Stock and Looking Forward’.

This dialogue series focused on the implications of South Africa’s elections for the country, SADC, Africa, and Global South, while also focusing on gender and the elections.

Dialogue One kickstarted the series and featured the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson Mosotho Moepya, who spoke on the IEC and the 2024 elections. It was facilitated by Wits professor Adebayo Olukoshi who led the conversation. He asked the chairperson about the IEC’s readiness for the upcoming elections.

“We are not worried about the security measures; once the ballots have been cast, counting happens at the voting stations. The counting happens in the presence of party agents and observers, and the results at the voting station will be determined,” said Moepya.

After counting, he added the IEC allows its staff into the voting station to take images of the result slips, signed by party agents and observers, to check that the votes were counted accurately.

The results are also audited after the election process and if they do not match what has been put forward by a particular station, a party agent can object and the IEC steps in.

The chairperson added the notion of a result being rigged in the election did not exist.

“The IEC of this country puts numerous measures in place that I don’t think many countries do. Before elections, we practise a dry run where we include every one of our staff involved in the election. They go to their voting stations to generate AI data and send it to our systems as if voters are coming in and need the necessary assistance.”

Also during the dry run, the IEC staff practise how to deal with voters who may be blind or illiterate. Once the dry run is completed, the IEC evaluates every staff member’s performance.

Integrity of elections

Moepya highlighted integrity was important in the election process.

“The results systems used on election day are developed by the IEC. Contrary to popular belief that we get them from another country, we develop them based on the electoral legislation that we have.”

He added the IEC tests the election results extensively and works with IT auditors.

“These auditors are not limited to what they should test. They will test if the results were manipulated or repurposed, and once they are satisfied, they issue us with a clean audit.”

The chairperson noted the IEC took it upon itself to show political parties the results system they would use, and should the political parties wish to have independent auditors, they were open to testing the system.

“If the political parties are happy, we seal the audit.”

Limitation on areas of voting

Moepya highlighted it was not the IEC’s limitation; it was a limitation that parliament put in place after inviting public submissions, and after those considerations, it legislated in the manner it currently does.

“As the IEC, we support that because an election must have integrity and rules that govern clearly and can be enforced and not be used loosely.”

He explained in the 2019 elections, the IEC addressed the country about Section 24A which says, ‘If you are in your home province or province where you are registered, you can vote there’, which was intended to help people such as journalists who found themselves at a different voting station.

“That rule ended up being abused because of people turning up at voting stations where they were not catered for.”

He added parliament amended that, saying it was aware some people could not vote at their stations.
What they can do, he said, is notify their chief electoral officers, who will make sure they can vote elsewhere, and that provision will be in force in the 2024 election.

Safety concerns around the election

According to the chairperson, the current political climate is one where an election can be held.

“In this election, we have the highest number of political parties contesting. We have 11 independent parties who will contest for the first time. Beyond these elections, an electoral reform panel will be held to analyse every concern regarding the electoral system.”

Communication between the IEC and its candidates

Moepya said, “The mechanism we have in talking to parties is robust; there is nothing we can hide. We are not a decision-making body. Parties come ready to raise concerns they might have. Since they are used to the process, they communicate with us.”

He added South Africa conducts electoral reforms every two years and involves stakeholders to iron out issues and see how the next election can be bettered; to ensure that the future of electoral processes is guaranteed for the next cycle.

Stats:

• 23.6% registered voters in Gauteng
• 52.76% are female voters
• 47.24% are male voters
• 14.5 million eligible voters have not registered to vote
• 65.7% can vote
• 27.79 million are registered to vote
• Three ballots: national, regional and provincial.

• Source: IEC voter registration statistics

 
Back to top button