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ROAD TO 2024 ELECTIONS

IEC ‘95% ready’ for polls despite candidate list challenges delaying finalisation of ballot papers

IEC ‘95% ready’ for polls despite candidate list challenges delaying finalisation of ballot papers
Ballot paper at voting station for Ward 32 during the by-elections on 11 November 2020 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

The Electoral Commission of South Africa has outlined its preparations in the run-up to 29 May, including key aspects of the elections timetable.

With election day around the corner, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is moving full steam ahead with preparations, with only the finalisation of the ballot papers outstanding.

During a media briefing on Tuesday, chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the finalisation of the list of candidates means the commission can proceed with printing the ballot papers. 

The IEC had more than 95% of logistical supplies for election day and was in the process of distributing 1,873 tonnes of material between its warehousing and storage facilities across the country.

However, according to IEC deputy CEO of electoral matters Masego Sheburi, challenges to the candidate list on which the Electoral Court has yet to deliver judgment means the IEC must hold off on printing the ballot papers.

Of the 11 cases brought by parties excluded from contesting the election, six judgments had been reserved, while five had been dismissed by the court on Monday.

Sheburi said the commission anticipates it will have an order from the court on Wednesday this week (17 April), which will determine when the IEC will print the ballot papers. According to the official election timetable the cut-off date for the final list of candidates was Wednesday, 10 April.

“Some of the matters yet to be determined implicate the configuration of contestants on the various ballot papers… The majority of requirements we have at hand, the only thing withstanding are related to ballot papers.”

ConCourt appeal

Last week, the IEC lodged an urgent and direct appeal to the Constitutional Court against the Electoral Court’s order which set aside the commission’s decision to remove former president Jacob Zuma from the candidates list following an appeal by the uMkhonto Wesizwe party.

Read more in Daily Maverick: IEC urgent ConCourt appeal over Zuma’s election participation ‘not political’

Though the Electoral Court has yet to provide reasons that the IEC decision was set aside, Mamabolo said it had no bearing on its ConCourt appeal.

“When an appeal is lodged, it is lodged against the orders of the court, not against the judgment, and we have orders in this case and on the basis of those orders we think that there is a need for clarity on a number of issues,” he said.

According to the CEO, the IEC is seeking clarity on the following:

  • Whether the commission went beyond its scope of authority in invoking section 47;1(a) when it excluded Zuma from the candidate list;
  • Whether commissioner Janet Love pre-judged the issue of Zuma’s eligibility to contest the election when answering a question from the media, and whether she should have recused herself; an
  • Whether the remission of a prison sentence amounts to the remission amount of the reduction of a sentence as ordered by a court of law.

“Those questions have to be answered for the clarity of everybody in respect of the immediate case but also in respect of future elections,” Mamabolo said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: IEC’s job is to deliver free and fair election, not battle Jacob Zuma in court

Regarding the threat of violence if Zuma is barred from contesting the elections, Mamabolo said the IEC is always worried about the threat of violence where people and property are concerned. However, he expressed confidence in the ability of the nation’s security structure to safeguard the commission, the elections and the people. 

Know your ballot paper

For the first time, voters will be confronted with three ballot papers on 29 May.

Mamabolo explained how the papers were designed and how they should be used on election day.

The first paper, the national ballot, is for the political parties vying for 200 seats in the National Assembly. There are 52 parties that will appear in two columns

The regional or province-to-national ballot features political and independent candidates contesting for the seats reserved for each province in the National Assembly. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections

The provincial ballot is unique to each province and includes parties and independent candidates competing for seats in each provincial legislature. Voters will be able to choose either a political party or an independent candidate to represent them in the legislatures. The number of contestants range from 24 to 45 on this ballot.

“The commission urges voters to carefully review and mark each of these three ballot papers before depositing them into the ballot box. Our appeal to voters is to remember that they can only put one mark on each ballot. More than one mark will result in a spoiled vote and not counted,” Mamabolo added.

Sheburi said the ballots were designed based on focus studies conducted with the Human Sciences Research Council to help voters make their choice with confidence. DM

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