Election Report: 2019 National and Provincial Elections


The Electoral Commission is proud to have, once again, delivered free, fair and credible elections in May 2019, resulting in the peaceful, smooth and legitimate transition from the fifth to the sixth National Assembly and nine provincial legislatures.

Coinciding – as the elections did – with the 25th anniversary year of South Africa’s first historic democratic and inclusive elections, the Electoral Commission was proud to not only meet its constitutional and legislative mandates for the 10th consecutive general election, but also to help propel South Africa further forward on its ongoing journey to achieve the founding provisions of the Constitution:

  • Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedom
  • Non-racialism and non-sexism
  • Supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law
  • Universal adult suffrage, a national common voters’ roll, regular elections and a multi-party system of democratic government to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness

The 2019 National and Provincial Elections (NPE) were yet another uncompromising test of the entire gambit of our electoral democracy: from the legislative and regulatory framework to the people who run and participate in elections; the processes and systems that facilitate them; and the logistics, planning and preparations that go into laying a foundation for free and fair elections

Once again, these held up extremely well and the Commission was able to declare the elections free and fair, and to announce the results within three days. This is in line with its constitutional mandate and is an important factor in ensuring a peaceful and efficient transition between governments.

Despite a very robust and vigorous campaigning by a record number of political parties, the Commission is particularly pleased to note that the 2019 NPE were among the most peaceful and violence-free in our country’s democratic history. Few, if any, reports were received of intimidation, “no-go zones” or violent intolerance. This is in stark contrast to the early years of our democracy and is testament to the maturing of our political and electoral systems.

This is not to say that the 2019 NPE did not present new challenges and threats. Among these was the spectre of alleged double voting, which emerged on Election Day and cast a dark – but thankfully fairly brief – shadow over the elections.

The Commission would like to express its gratitude to those who helped to deal swiftly and decisively with this issue, and who helped demonstrate the ultimate integrity of the process and restore trust in it.
Among these are the leadership and members of South African Police Service (SAPS), who moved swiftly to investigate and arrest those who had attempted electoral fraud. We are also deeply grateful to the Statistician-General, Mr Risenga Maluleke, and his team. Without hesitation, they conducted a statistical analysis of voting patterns to help dispel any concerns over widespread multiple voting

The Commission is also grateful to the many analysts, commentators and experts – including former Commissioners – who defended the integrity of the electoral process. 
That being said, the Commission is under no illusion that it can approach another general election without a number of key enhancements to the electoral process to further cement the credibility and integrity of the elections.

Among these must be an embrace of technological innovation to help facilitate and manage voter registration and participation

Other lessons were also learned. Social media is a powerful tool for all stakeholders, but one which also has the potential to undermine free and fair elections through disinformation. The Commission is proud of the lead taken in conjunction with a number of civil society partners to initiate a project to help identify and deal with instances of disinformation. We expect to build on this foundation going forward

The declining participation of voters in national and provincial elections in South Africa – especially young voters – is another area of concern for all stakeholders. The fact that this is another sign of a maturing democracy and is in line with international trends is cold comfort. We must – together as partners in electoral democracy – find ways to reverse this trend and bring young people into the democratic framework we fought so hard to achieve.

Successful elections are a collective effort, and on behalf of the Commission, I wish to extend my deepest gratitude and appreciation for the many stakeholders and partners who made these elections possible.

The final word of thanks must go to the South African voters who continue to believe in our democracy, our country and our Constitution, and who willingly fulfil their responsibilities to continue this journey we started in 1994.

Thank you. Enkosi. Dankie. Ngiyathokoza. Ngiyabonga. Ke a leboga. Ke a leboha. Ndza Nkhensa. Ndo Livhuwa.
Your vote is your support for our democracy, Xse!.

Glen Mashinini
Chairperson of the Electoral Commission