2024 elections: IEC warns of having the longest ballot paper ever with over 360 parties and independent candidates

Ntombifuthi Masinga revealed that there will now be three ballot papers. Picture: Sihle Mavuso/IOL Politics

Ntombifuthi Masinga revealed that there will now be three ballot papers. Picture: Sihle Mavuso/IOL Politics

Published Oct 18, 2023


With next year’s provincial and national elections around the corner, the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is expecting the longest ballot paper since 1994.

The IEC says at the present moment, it has 560 political parties on its books, and with the addition of independent candidates, the ballot paper will be significantly longer.

On Wednesday, the commission held a session with media houses in Durban to discuss their role during elections.

Among the topics that were discussed were the electoral guidelines for the media, curbing misinformation, how seats are allocated, and deposits to be paid by those who intend to contest the elections.

Giving an overview, Mawethu Mosery, the deputy chief electoral officer, outreach at the IEC, kicked off the session by expressing fears that the three court cases and their budget issues would affect the election.

He said that although their work requires a lot of money and they never have enough of it, that will not hamper them from delivering free and fair elections.

He also noted that there is already a lot of intimidation, intolerance, and misinformation by various political players.

On the large number of registered parties, Mosery said that while they have 560 of them in their books, the number is likely to be trimmed at the provincial and national levels.

“Our register of political parties is 560 today... Why are you shocked? There are 560 registered political parties, so that’s where we are,” Mosery said.

“Of this 560, 200 are registered to contest elections at a municipal level, which means there is a party registered to contest only in Mandeni; they would not contest the province or national,” he said.

With some of the registered parties having a narrow municipal focus, Mosery said the number would be lowered to 360.

“So, at national and provincial level, now that we are going to an election, we are left with 360.

“Now add on the 360, your estimated number of would-be independent candidates; we do not know as a commission how many independent candidates are likely to be there.

“But if you look at Gauteng, you might just end up with a thousand people who want to get a seat there,” Mosery said.

The IEC’s provincial electoral officer in KwaZulu-Natal, Ntombifuthi Masinga, revealed that as of August 2023, the province of KwaZulu-Natal had 5,3 million voters, and the number is expected to rise after the recently released population statistics show that the provincial population has ballooned.

She added that although prisoners are not allowed to vote in local government elections, they are allowed to vote in national elections.

Masinga also said that during next year’s election, there will be three ballot papers. The third new one will be mainly for independent candidates.

The IEC also anticipates that each ballot paper will contain 48 parties and anticipates chaos and a lot of spoilt votes.

The last voter registration weekend is expected around February next year, and after that, President Cyril Ramaphosa will announce the date for the elections.

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