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IEC commended for fielding gender-diverse team of officials in the elections

A graphic showing a man and woman on a scale

THE Commission for Gender Equality said it has found no evidence of systemic discrimination or impediment against any South African citizen based on gender in the local government elections. File Picture

Published Nov 4, 2021

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PRETORIA – The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has found no evidence of discrimination against any person, based on gender, in the recently held local government elections.

“Based on the experiences and feedback received from our observers throughout the country, the CGE wishes to issue this preliminary statement indicating that we have found no evidence of systematic and/or systemic discrimination or impediment against any South African citizen based on gender,” said CGE spokesperson Javu Baloyi.

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The commission has also lauded the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) on fielding “a sufficiently gender-diverse team” of election officials under the leadership of presiding officers in voting stations observed by the CGE officials throughout the country.

“We wish to remark with appreciation, the efforts of the staff of the Electoral Commission of South Africa, at the various voting stations observed, for assisting and prioritising pregnant women, elderly, persons with disabilities including women and men with small children, to move ahead of the queues to minimise and alleviate the inconvenience of standing for too long in queues before casting their votes,” Baloyi said.

The CGE also noted that women continue to make up the majority of the registered voting population in South Africa.

“For instance, available figures for registered voters in South Africa show that, overall, women comprised 55.17% of voters registered in the country’s voters roll, with men comprising 44.83%.

“We believe that these figures auger well for the CGE’s long-standing and ongoing campaign to encourage greater gender equality in the participation and representation of women in politics, governance, leadership, and decision-making structures,” Baloyi said.

“However, the CGE desires to signal no complacency with these voter registration figures that appear to show higher levels of interest and willingness among women to participate in choosing their public representatives, as challenges persist.”

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The CGE highlighted that women continue to be significantly under-represented among public representatives at local government level, particularly among ward councillors, as well as within the leadership structures of some of the major political parties in the country.

“We therefore await with great expectation the results of the recent local government elections to assess the extent to which these inadequacies will be addressed,” Baloyi said.

While the CGE was pleased with the absence of significant gender-related impediments during the voting process, it expressed concern with the lower voter turnout that has become the major talking point of the polls.

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“Such lower voter turnouts in the past have tended to be to the detriment of women’s representation among elected public representatives,” Baloyi said.

“We have also noted reports of isolated incidents at some of the voting stations observed by the CGE where, during the vote counting process, the application of strict rules to control the movements of individuals in and out of the vote counting venues, including regulation of comfort breaks and use of restrooms and ablution facilities, resulted in some discomfort and distress to some of the women affected.”

The CGE said “a more substantive report” on the outcome of the elections will be released at a later stage, containing its findings of the gender analysis of the results of the 2021 local government elections held on Monday.

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