Chief electoral commissioner encourages voter participation

The Faculty of Law at the North-West University (NWU) recently collaborated with the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to organise a guest lecture at the Vanderbijlpark Campus in celebration of World Day of Social Justice.

The lecture, titled "Elections, democracy, and citizen participation," was delivered by Sy Mamabolo, the chief electoral commissioner of the IEC. The event also coincided with the proclamation of the general election date – 29 May 2024. This general election will mark 30 years of freedom and democracy in South Africa.

During his lecture, Sy discussed the electoral process and its democratic values. He explored electoral trends, citizen participation, and the functional value of the election, among other things. He encouraged students to register and vote in the upcoming elections and reiterated the IEC's commitment to ensure a successful, free and fair 2024 general election.

Sy pointed out that there is still a large proportion of the electorate interested in the political life of the country. He also noted an upward trend in voter registration among young people aged between 16 and 29, who make up the majority of people who have registered. Since the transition to democracy in 1994, South Africa has had six national elections, and there has been a steady decline in voter turnout.

He said the voters' roll now stands at 27,6 million, with 1,2 million of this being new voters. "In the 2019 elections, there were 26,7 million registered voters, but only little over 17 million turned up to vote. Of these, people aged between 18 and 20 had the lowest voter turnout of all age groups in the country.”

Sy also noted that there has been a historic underrepresentation of young people in the voting system, and urged young people to vote, thereby contributing to South Africa’s democracy.

“Elections can be used as a tool to make sure that our government is held accountable, and citizen participation is a very important part of a credible election,” said Sy, adding that elections are no longer just a process but a functional value.

He highlighted the fact that the IEC has created a framework for credible elections in line with international standards. Responding to some of the questions from the audience, Sy gave the assurance that only South African citizens are allowed to vote, and that citizens who are abroad also have an opportunity to cast their vote at the different South African consulates across the world. He also pointed out that electronic voting is under consideration.

Kagiso Masilo, senior lecturer and director for undergraduate studies in the Faculty of Law, thanked Sy for sharing his insights on the electoral process and the importance of citizens – and the youth in particular – to participate in the elections.


Sy Mamabolo, the chief electoral commissioner of the Independent Electoral Commission, addresses the audience.

Submitted on Fri, 02/23/2024 - 14:53