Issued by Christina Teichmann, FW de Klerk Foundation Board Member, on behalf of the FW de Klerk Foundation on 14/11/2023


The FW de Klerk Foundation supports the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in its campaign to mobilise South Africans to register for the 2024 National and Provincial Elections this weekend, 18 and 19 November. 

According to the IEC website, only around 62% of the 42.3 million eligible voters are registered, 55.3% of whom are female, and 44.7% male. Taking into account the steady decline in voter turnout on election day (from 86,8% in 1994 to 66,1% in 2019), this leaves the IEC with much work to do.

The right to vote is enshrined in the South African Constitution and must not be taken for granted. It is an essential pillar of our electoral democracy, which provides citizens, every five years, with the opportunity to choose which political party should represent them and their interests in the various spheres of government. 

While not to vote is a legitimate choice, it nevertheless weakens participatory democracy. The 2024 National and Provincial Election Campaign – under the theme “Your Democracy, Own It”, stresses the importance of actively taking part in elections for a healthy and vibrant democracy. 

While there might be good reasons, especially for young people, to feel disillusioned about democratic processes and institutions, it must be made clear that the most effective and constructive way to initiate societal change is by participating in the voting process on election day. In order to be able to do so, registration on the voters roll is a prerequisite.

Next year’s general elections will, for various reasons, be a test for South Africa’s three-decade-old democracy. Indications are that a record number of political parties will participate in the elections and that South Africans will see the fiercest electoral competition since 1994. There is a good chance that the ruling party might, for the first time since 1994, come short in securing a comfortable majority. As we have seen before in other countries, the end of one-party dominance is often associated with rising tensions, violence and riots. The more voters who are registered and cast their votes on the day of the elections, the more representative the outcome (of the elections) will be – and the more accurately it will reflect the will of the South African people. 

There is another reason why next year’s elections will be especially significant. The newly adopted Electoral Amendment Act provides independent candidates with the opportunity to contest for a seat in Parliament for the first time. This creates a new dynamic and might make casting a ballot (paper) more interesting, as voters will be able to vote for an individual and will no longer be limited to voting for a political party.

Let us all, especially young South Africans, support our democracy and “own it” by registering on the voters roll this upcoming weekend and by casting our vote in the 2024 General Elections. Let’s take ownership of South Africa’s future by making use of our constitutional right to vote. 

Click here to learn more about the Electoral Amendment Act and how this might affect next year’s elections.