Launch of 2016 Municipal Elections

All voting stations will open from 8am to 5pm over the weekend of Saturday 5 March and Sunday 6 March for new voters to register and for existing voters to update and check their registration details ahead of this year’s Municipal Elections.

The dates for the voter registration weekend were announced at the official launch of the 2016 Municipal Elections held at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand today.

The date for the election itself will only be known later this year when it is proclaimed by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) the Honourable Mr David van Rooyen, which will start the official election timetable.

In terms of the Constitution, the municipal elections must take place between 18 May and 16 August 2016 – the 90 day window provided at the conclusion of five year term of office of municipal councillors elected in 2011 and in any subsequent by-elections.

For now the Electoral Commission is urging all participants including eligible voters, political parties and their candidates as well as any independent candidates to ensure they are ready to participate in the elections.

Ward delimitation

Following the municipal demarcation process undertaken by the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB), the number of municipalities has been reduced from 278 to 257. This includes 8 metropolitan municipalities (unchanged from 2011), 205 local municipalities (compared to 226 in 2011), and 44 district municipalities (unchanged).

There is also a 15% reduction in wards with a final figure at 4 392.

Having taken receipt of the final batch of ward boundaries on 15 December 2015 the Electoral Commission is now in the final stages of reviewing voting station boundaries in the light of the newly demarcated wards. 

At this point, the voting station network stands at 22 513 voting stations and is estimated to finally reach approximately 22 600. This represents a significant improvement in terms of access to voting stations by voters and compares favourably with the 20 859 voting stations we had in the 2011 Municipal Elections.

Finding your correct voting station

All eligible voters (South African citizens aged 18 or older) should ensure they are registered in the correct voting district where they ordinarily reside. Unlike national and provincial elections, voting in a municipal election is only allowed at the voting district in which you are registered to vote.

There are a number of ways voters can find their correct voting station:
• Call the Electoral Commission Contact Centre on 0800 11 8000 between 7am and 9pm weekdays. For the first time the Contact Centre agents will also be  available (from Monday 18 January 2016) to assist voters via webchat (, Twitter (@IECSouthAfrica), Facebook (IECSouthAfrica) and email ([email protected])
• Use the voting station finder app on the IEC website at
• Dial *120*IEC# (*120*432#)

Voters who are already registered can SMS their ID number to 32810 (cost R1) to receive confirmation of their voter registration details including the name of their voting station.

Voters need to take with them their green barcoded ID book, smart ID card or a valid temporary ID certificate to the voting station. No other forms of ID are accepted for voter registration.

The Electoral Commission reminds all voters that it is a criminal offence to knowingly register in a voting district in which the voter is not ordinarily resident.

Communication campaign

To encourage and assist as many voters in participating in the elections, the Electoral Commission has from today launched a widespread communications and education campaign which tells voters that the future of their community, ward and municipality is “in their hands”.

The campaign includes adverts across television, radio, print, outdoor and digital channels.

A key focus of the campaign is encouraging first-time voters to register and participate. The Electoral Commission statistics for registration show that voter registration currently stands at 24.98 million against a voting age population currently estimated at about 34.1 million by Statistics South Africa

Of the approximately 9.1 million eligible voters who are not currently registered, more than 80% are under 35 years old.

An interactive digital game (IXSA) in which voters must register and vote - first developed for the 2014 national elections - has been enhanced and updated for the 2016 Municipal Elections and is available for download free from the Apple and Android app stores.

Recruitment of election staff

Almost 1 700 education fieldworkers have also been deployed across all municipalities to engage in voter education initiatives.

A further number of approximately 50 000 temporary registration officials have been recruited and trained to staff voting stations for the registration weekend.

As far as possible, officials have been recruited from the local areas in which they will work to ensure they have the requisite local geographical knowledge of the area to assist voters with registration and making sure they are registered in the correct voting district in which they live. They also must be proficient in the predominant language of the areas in which they are working in order to communicate effectively with the voters

The recruitment of election officials is also subject to a verification process by political parties through the party liaison committee system where parties are able to object to officials who they believe do not conform to the recruitment criteria.

Impact of Constitutional Court ruling on registration process

The Electoral Commission confirmed that registration officials must satisfy themselves of the precise location of ordinary residence of an applicant within a voting district to ensure they are registered in the correct voting district. Voters do not need to provide proof of address when registering – but must provide sufficient details of their address to show that they are in the correct voting district

Where no address is available, registering voters will be required to sign an affirmation confirming their exact location of residence in the correct voting district. The affirmation highlights that it is a criminal offence to knowingly register in the incorrect voting district.

The Commission confirmed that following the registration weekend addresses of voters will now be captured before the certification of the voters roll. Political parties and independent contestant will also be provided a copy of the voters roll with addresses to allow them the possibility for effective campaigning.

Political party registration

Currently there are 282 political parties registered with the Electoral Commission. There is no specific cut-off date for parties wishing to contest the 2016 Municipal Elections and registration is on-going.

However, political parties which have not yet registered and are intending to contest the elections are urged to begin the registration process as soon as possible as it can take a number of weeks to complete the requirements – which include publishing a notice of the intention to register in local newspapers in the case of a municipal level registration or the government gazette in the case of a national level registration.

Candidate nominations

The timelines for the nomination of candidates contesting the 2016 Municipal Elections will only be announced as part of the election timetable to be released upon the proclamation of the election date.

However, the Electoral Commission urges any candidates planning to contest the election as independent candidates to familiarize themselves with the requirements as soon as possible (available on so they are ready to apply once the dates are finalised.

To reduce the administrative burden on parties and independent candidates, the Electoral Commission has developed an online candidate nomination process which will allow candidates to apply via the internet. This is currently in testing and will be available in time for the candidate nomination process.

Ensuring free and fair elections 

14 January 2016

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