Get information on the Electoral Amendment Act and how it affects South Africa's 2024 National and Provincial Elections.
On 17 April 2023, the President of the Republic of South Africa signed the Electoral Amendment Bill into law.
This is a significant milestone in the evolution of South Africa’s democracy, which expands electoral participation and widens the pool of leadership choice for national and provincial elections.
The foremost implications of the
Electoral Amendment Act (the Act), 1 of 2023, are as follows:
The Act provides for the amendment of the Electoral Act, 73 of 1998, and gives effect to the Constitutional Court judgment handed down on 11 June 2020.
The judgment in the matter of the New Nation Movement NPC & others V President of the Republic of South Africa & others, declared the Electoral Act of 1998 unconstitutional for stipulating that election to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures may only be attained through membership of political parties.
The Constitutional Court ordered Parliament to remedy the defects within 24 months. The judgement of the order was predicated on rights of association, dignity and Section 19 Political Rights. The Court left the choice of electoral system to Parliament. Similarly, it did not pronounce on a preference of principles.
The Electoral Amendment Bill went through extensive public consultations by the two houses of Parliament – National Parliament and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), prompting Parliament to request two deadline extensions from the Constitutional Court. Thus, the final deadline for Parliament to pass the bill was 28 February 2023.
The Bill was approved by the National Assembly on 20 October 2022, and referred to the NCOP for further consideration and concurrence. The NCOP also approved it with further proposed amendments, and returned it to the National Assembly on 29 November 2022 for further processing.
On 23 February 2023, the National Assembly (NA) passed the Electoral Amendment Bill and adopted the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs along with amendments proposed by the NCOP.
The Electoral Amendment Act became law in June 2023.
In short, it doesn't! Members of the National Legislature (National Assembly) and the nine provincial legislatures are elected based on a party-list, compensatory proportional representation (PR) system. This means that political parties were represented in proportion to their electoral support. With the new Act, independent candidates are accommodated within the system.
In terms of the Electoral Amendment Act:
Therefore, in the national elections, independent candidates will contest the 200 regional seats alongside political parties, while the other 200 seats will be compensatory to bring back general proportionality for political parties. This means that the total votes for a party in a region determine the number of seats they hold.
Remember that, as an individual, an independent candidate can only occupy one seat, even if they contest in multiple regions.
A vacancy arises when a political party or independent candidate dies, resigns or loses membership of the assembly.
When a vacancy is caused by the departure of a political party candidate, the party nominates another candidate to fill the vacancy.
When a vacancy is caused by the departure of an independent candidate, a recalculation of the votes cast will take place to determine which party or independent candidate who contested the preceding election is entitled to be allocated the vacated seat.
Due to the nature of the system, this means that votes cast for the departing independent are disregarded, and that votes and seats allocated to independent candidates already in office are also disregarded.
Simply put, votes cast for the departing independent and votes cast for, and the seats held by, independent candidates that already hold office in the legislature are also disregarded.
The result ‘plus one’, disregarding fractions, is the amended quota.
There are two separate elections to elect representatives to the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures. Although separate, they are conducted simultaneously on the same day.
For the first time in 2024, voters will receive three ballot instead of only two ballots.
National and Provincial elections are two different elections to choose representatives to the National Assembly and nine Provincial Legislatures. Although they are different elections, they are held on the same day nationwide.
National Assembly makes and carries out laws and policies for the whole country, while a Provincial Legislature makes and carries out laws and policies that affect the province only.
The Act commits South Africa to a process of Electoral reform both for the 2024 and beyond the 2024 elections. The Electoral Commission is moving with speed to finalise the supporting business applications necessary for the implementation of the Act for the 2024 election.
These include, among others:
Here's what you need to know:
An independent candidate who was elected to the National or provincial legislature in the preceding election shall be exempt from signature requirement.
An additional requirement is a declaration that candidates on the provincial list are registered within that province.
In the case of a party with no representation in the National Assembly or provincial legislature, the same signature requirements apply as for independent candidates. Candidates must gather 15% of the previous election's quota in supporter signatures for a seat in national or provincial legislatures.
The Draft Regulations supporting the Electoral Amendment Act, which include the election deposit amounts, were gazetted in July 2023 and the closing date for public comment is 27 August 2023. The final election deposit amounts will be announced in due course.
The proposed deposit amounts to be paid by political parties and independent candidates intending to contest elections, in terms of the Electoral Amendment Act draft regulations, are as per the table below.
By law, all South African residents are required to vote where they reside. However, with changes to the Electoral Act Sections 24A, if you plan to be outside your voting district during the elections, it is now mandatory to notify the Electoral Commission in advance during a specified timeframe.
To notify the Electoral Commission, voters must do using one of the following methods:
As a South African citizen, your vote knows no boundaries. Whether you reside within or outside the country, you have the right to vote in the national elections (but not provincial elections).
To vote abroad you need:
With the new Electoral Amendment Act, voters abroad are no longer obliged to notify the Commission about their voting intentions, unless they intend voting at a different mission or country then where they are currently registered. In this case, they will be required to notify the CEO, just as South Africans voting in-country are required to do when voting outside of their voting district.
South Africa's seventh democratic elections will be held on 29 May 2024, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.