10 things you need to know a month before election day

Democratic national and provincial elections have taken place in South Africa every five years starting in 1994.

Elections are an important way for people to debate and decide on their country’s future. They also provide an opportunity for voters to put to use their constitutional rights.

The national and provincial elections are two different elections to choose representatives to the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures. Although they are different elections, they are held on the same day.

What is the difference between the two?

National government makes and carries out laws and policies for the whole country. It is made up of Parliament led by the Speaker; and National Government led by the President and Ministers.

The Provincial Government, on the other hand, makes and carries out laws and policies that affect the province only. It is made up of the legislature led by the speaker, and Provincial Government led by the Premier and Members of the Executive Council (MECs).

South Africa’s electoral system is called the Proportional Representation (PR) system.

The PR system awards seats to political parties according to the percentage of votes each party receives in an election.

Political parties submit a list of candidates to the IEC for the National Assembly and the Provincial Legislatures. Candidates are listed in their order of preference.

On Election Day, voters vote for the political party of their choice, not individual candidates.

After counting, political parties are allocated seats according to the percentage each party received.

An advantage of this electoral system is that it makes sure that smaller political parties are included and represented. This means that the legislatures are made up of people with different interests.

Currently, 26 744 565 South Africans are on the voters roll, according to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Since its inception ahead of the 1999 national and provincial elections, the voters’ roll has shown steady growth of over 47% and contains the highest number of registered voters to date, recording an increase of 1 366 748 voters since 2014.

A total of 30 532 voters have applied to cast their vote in the national elections at one of South Africa’s 121 foreign missions.

The IEC has also opened its doors for the applications of special votes – until the 18 April.

The special votes will allow those who are unable to reach a voting station due to physical infirmity, disability or pregnancy – to cast their votes in the comfort of their homes. The second type of special vote is cast at a voting station – which is opened for any voter who is unable to cast their ballot on voting day.

These special votes will be conducted between 09H00 and 17H00 on Monday, 6 May 2019 and 7 May 2019.

According to IEC statistics, of the 26.74 million registered voters, 14 716 879 are women (55%) which is 4% above the demographic split of the South African population, according to Statistics South Africa which is based on 2018 Midyear Population Estimates.

The provinces with the highest number of registered voters are Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

In terms of age, the biggest category of voters are those aged 30 – 39 years old (6 685 472) which represents 24.99% of the roll.

The IEC has confirmed that a total of 48 political parties will be running for the elections.

Elections stats

In the lead up to the 2019 elections, the Institute of Race Relations has released a list of facts based on its most recent election survey, identifying the general sentiment among the electorate towards the three major political parties (ANC, DA and EFF), as well as perceptions of the current ANC government.

The stats are based on the responses of a demographically representative survey which was conducted in February 2019 among the voting population.

Here are the key take-aways:

  • The ANC leads in support with 54.7% of the vote, followed by the DA with 21.8% and the EFF with 12.2%.
  • Gauteng is a hotly contested province, with the DA (32.4%) catching up to the ANC (41.6%) in terms of support. The EFF has also made gains at 18.2%.
  • The Western Cape looks to remain a DA majority, but only barely, at 50.1% support. The ANC trails at 33.9%, with the EFF not even registering. Two thirds of WC voters feel unfavourable towards the EFF.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa is the most popular party leader, with 60% of voters nationally favouring him.
  • DA leader Mmusi Maimane is less popular than EFF leader Julius Malema. Maimane has 31.5% favour, while Malema has 32.6%.
  • Ramaphosa is the most popular leader in the Western Cape and Gauteng – 50.1% and 60.6% view him favourably, compared 42.8% and 39.9% for Maimane and 19.9% and 34.0% for Malema, in each respective province.
  • The ANC is viewed as a largely corrupt party. Nearly two thirds (65.4%) of respondents said “is corrupt” best describes the ANC, versus 6.6% for the EFF and 5.5% for the DA.
  • The majority (50%-plus) are dissatisfied with how the ANC government has handled economic growth, fighting corruption, crime, land reform, healthcare and education.
  • Despite the dissatisfaction, a larger proportion of voters still believe the ANC will be better at delivering on the above than the DA or the EFF.
  • Most voters (65.8%) believe the country is heading in the wrong direction.

Read: ANC is in worse shape under Ramaphosa: former president

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10 things you need to know a month before election day