South Africa: Election Commission welcomes proclamation of elections

PRETORIA, South Africa’s Electoral Commission (IEC) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s proclamation of the 2019 National and Provincial Elections, due to take place on May 8.

The proclamation triggers the official election timetable which the Electoral Commission will discuss with the National Party Liaison Committee before publishing in the Government Gazette.

The proposed election timetable spans the next 71 days and lays down the key dates and deadlines for various milestones until voting day on May 8. The proclamation places the preparation of the elections into a different trajectory. It gives a greater impetus to the currently unfolding election preparations, IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said in a statement.

The Commission will now have to escalate preparations so that all electoral activities are accomplished in time for Election Day.

In this regard, no effort will be spared to avail to voters a credible electoral process, said Bapela.

The first legal consequence of the proclamation is that the voters’ roll for this year’s elections will be closed. This means no new applicants may be admitted to the voters’ roll for purposes of the 2019 National and Provincial Elections. This includes both additional registrations and re-registrations.

Voters who will be outside the South African borders and intend to vote at embassies and consulates need to notify the chief electoral officer of this fact and the mission at which they intend voting.

In this regard, voters have 15 days to complete the notification (VEC10) which is now available on the website of the Electoral Commission, Bapela said.

The proclamation also triggers the opening of candidate nomination for the elections. The closing date for candidate nomination will be regulated in terms of the election timetable.

In 2016, the IEC launched the online candidate nomination system ahead of the 2016 Municipal Elections in an effort to speed up and simplify the process of submitting candidate nomination lists for elections by allowing parties to capture their own information and then submit it electronically via the internet by the deadline.

At the time, more than half of the nearly 64,000 candidate nominations were submitted online.

Among the key benefits of the system include that parties can capture their own information reducing errors and the time required; real-time verification of eligibility of candidates; electronically generated acceptance of nomination forms obviating the need to manually complete forms for each candidate; progress reports for all elections contested by a party and instant confirmation of the list of candidates and legislature contested.

To contest the 2019 elections the following amounts are to be deposited by registered political parties in terms of section 27(2) of the Electoral Act, Act 73 of 1998: R200 000 in respect of an election of the National Assembly, and R45 000 in respect of an election of a Provincial Assembly.

The total cost for a political party to contest the 2019 National and Provincial Elections is R605,000 ´┐Ż R200,000 for the National Assembly and R45,000 for each of the nine provincial assemblies.

According to the Commission, the amounts are the same as those used in the 2014 National and Provincial Elections. The retention of the same deposits since 2014 means a significant reduction in the amount in real terms.

Parties which fail to secure a seat in the National Assembly or provincial legislature forfeit their deposit to the National Revenue Fund.

The number of votes required to secure a seat in both the national and provincial legislatures depends on the voter turnout of the elections. In 2014 parties required 45,892 votes to be guaranteed a seat in the National Assembly and between 13,627 votes (Northern Cape) and 59,219 votes (Gauteng) for a provincial seat.

Should political parties elect to submit nominations manually they may still do so at the national office of the Electoral Commission in Centurion during the window period for submissions.

A total of 8,651 candidates were nominated for the previous National and Provincial Elections in 2014, 2,089 of whom were nominated for the National Assembly, and 6,562 for the provincial legislatures and regional lists.

Source: NAM News Network