ARTICLE: ONLY JUST FREE AND FAIR, A MOVE TO THE CENTRE, BUT STILL IN THE MIDST OF EXTRA-PARLIAMENTARY POLITICS
Democratic South Africa’s sixth general election has come and gone. Before reflecting on and interpreting the results, it is necessary to pause and consider the process that unfolded and brought us to this point. According to section 190 of the Constitution, the Electoral Commission must “manage elections… in accordance with national legislation; ensure that those elections are free and fair; and declare the results of those elections within a period that … is as short as reasonably possible”.
There was, therefore, a huge amount of preparation done for the 2019 National and Provincial Elections. During that time the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was also mandated by the Constitutional Court to ensure that every eligible voter had a correct home address – a task that they had not yet completed by Election Day. Concerns were registered beforehand about the IEC’s capacity and its budget. Concerns had also been raised about the number of voters who had registered. Despite the IEC’s best efforts, only 27 million of the 36 million eligible voters registered. A further concern was the low rate of youth registration, especially in the category 18 to 36 years.