Voting in South Africa


Voting in South Africa

South African elections explained

South Africa became a democracy after the 1994 general South African elections. First of all this article will most noteworthy focus on how voting were done from 1994 till now (2019).
Let’s first of all get into a bit of background of South Africa’s politics.

History of South African elections before 1994

On 15 September 1910, General Louis Botha became the first prime minister of the Union of South Africa and even more Louis Botha was also a Boer leader in the Anglo Boer war.


The African National Congress (ANC) were founded on 8 January 1912 while the National Party founded their party in 1914.

On 26 May 1948 the National Party won the election due to and as a result of their policy of racial segregation. This policy of racial segregation were most noteworthy named Apartheid.

Hendrik Verwoerd and the South African elections

In 1958 Dr Hendrik Verwoerd came into power as the new Prime Minister of the National Party and so a new era of South African politics started.

David Pratt, a disgruntled English farmer shot and almost killed Hendrik Verwoerd during a speech in Johannesburg due to him being against apartheid. Above all, Dr. Verwoerd survived the assassination attempt.

31 May 1961 South Africa became a republic with Dr. Verwoerd at the helm

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela left the country illegally in November 1962. He therefore received a sentence of 5 years imprisonment after his arrest.

Noteworthy, the CIA made his movements known to the South African security police

On 6 September 1966 Dr. Verwoerd was assassinated by Dimitri Tsafendas by stabbing him to death in Parlaiment. Mr. Tsafendas was a messenger for Parlaiment and also against the system of apartheid.

In 1966 BJ Vorster became Prime Minister of South Africa

On 16 June 1976 the black youth revolted against the education system due to them being denied education in their mother tongue.

On 2 November 1983 White South Africans casted their vote with a 66.3 % in favor for a tricameral parliament. The Parlaiment included coloured and also indians, but rather excluded the black majority.

In 1984 PW Botha became State President of South Africa

On 20 Sep 1989 F. W. de Klerk became South Africa’s President.

Nelson Mandela released from prison

Most noteworthy on 11 Feb 1990 President F. W. de Klerk released Nelson Mandela after 27 years from prison

The black homelands were finally incorporated into nine new provincial administrative regions in April 1994.

As a result the first democratic elections in South Africa was held on 27 April 1994. Nelson Mandela as a result became the first Democratically elected President.


The National Party consisted of whites only and came into power in South Africa in 1948. They furthermore began enforcing existing policies of racial segregation. Apartheid was named after the system of racial segregation.

The majority of people who were not white were forced to live in separate areas away from whites under Apartheid. As a result contact between the two groups were limited.

The controversial 1913 Land Act, passed three years after South Africa gained its independence, marked the beginning of territorial segregation


National and Provincial Elections

South Africa’s national and provincial elections take place every five years.

Voters vote for a political party, not individuals. The political party then gets a share of seats in Parliament in direct proportion to the number of votes it got in the election. Each party decides on members to fill the seats it has won. This is called a proportional representation (PR) voting system.

National government makes and carries out laws and policies for the whole country. The National government It is made up of:

  • Parliament led by the Speaker
  • National Government led by the President and Ministers

Provincial government makes and carries out laws and policies that affect the province only. Provincial government consist of:

Legislature (the laws of the country) led by the Speaker

Provincial Government led by the Premier and Members of the Executive Council (MECs)

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

Municipal By-Elections

By-elections take place within 90 days after a municipal ward council seat becomes vacant due to death, expulsion or resignation of a ward councilor.

Municipal Elections

Municipal elections take place every five years.

A mixed or hybrid system, making use of both the ward system and the proportional representation (PR) system, is used for municipal elections.

There are 3 types of Municipal Councils in South Africa:

Category A: Metropolitan Councils;


Category B: Local Councils (LC);


Category C: District Councils (DC) (have executive and legislative powers in areas that include local municipalities)

For metropolitan municipalities, there are 2 types of elections in each ward:

Metropolitan council ward, and

Metropolitan proportional representation.

In all local municipalities other than metropolitan municipalities, there are 3 types of South African elections in each ward:

Local council ward;

Local council proportional representation; and

District council proportional representation.

The first democratic municipal elections took place in 1995/6, and the first municipal elections run by the IEC took place in 2000.


South Africa has a two house Parliament supported by a joint administration. The National Assembly is directly elected by the voters, while the National Council of Provinces is elected by the nine different provinces.

The National Assembly consist of 400 member with the number of seats that a party has being in proportion to the number of voter that voted for them in the elections.


Anyone has permission to visit the Parliament. Parlaiment is hosted in Cape Town. Visits to Parliament is free of charge and available Mondays to Fridays .

Visitors to Parliament are permittedto witness live debates between the Political Parties. While live debates are free to watch you have to book your seat in advance. Visitors are forbid to take part in the debates though.


South African Presidents are permitted to serve two 5 year terms (a total of 10 years)

Presidents who did not finish their full term:

PW Botha 1984 to 1989

He resigned in order for FW de Klerk to go ahead and lead South Africa into a Democracy. P.W. Botha felt that F.W. De Klerk went behind his back to oust him.

FW de Klerk 1989 to 1994

He only served one term to allow the first democratic election after Apartheid ended

Presidents after apartheid ended

Nelson Mandela 1994 to 1999

He served one term and didn’t enter a second due to ill health

Thabo Mbeki 1999 to 2008

The ANC recalled Thabo a few months before the end of his term. The recall was due to friction and division within the ruling party

Jacob Zuma 2009 to 2018

He resigned after pressure by the ruling party due to poor performance


Mr Ramaphosa won the election and therefore he became the recent President of South Africa on 8 May 2019

A record amount of 48 political parties took part in the 2019 elections.

Political Parties was granted permission to be funded by members of public.

The ANC have won every general election since 1994 with the Democratic Alliance furthermore being the official opposition.

The perks of being a member of Parlaiment

  • The members of parliament (MP’s) have access to Parliamentary Villages which are partially furnished
  • The also pay a nominal fee for living there which makes it even more lucrative to live there.
  • They have free access to transport and also free electricity and water
  • They also benefit from 86 free national flights per year.
  • Their spouses as well as their children also receive travel allowances.


Voting in all elections are important. First of all, if you don’t vote, you cannot complain or voice your concerns about anything. You might think that your vote won’t help but for the reason that your vote could make a difference, you should indeed exercise your right to vote.

Oprah Winfrey once told a Lady who didn’t vote, that it is important for everyone to cast their vote. It is therefore vitally important to vote as our forefathers and mothers paid a huge price so that we can finally make our mark.

Interesting facts

  • The carpet with the blood stain where Hendrik Verwoerd was killed in Parlaiment is still visible
  • Nelson Mandela is known by 6 names in South Africa. He was born as Rolihlahla Mandela. His teacher gave him the name “Nelson” . He received the name “Dalibhunga” (which means “creator or founder of the council”) when he was 16. He’s also referred to as Madiba (the name of the Thembu clan to which he belonged to) and also Thata and Khulu (the Xhosa words for “father” and “grandfather”).
  • South Africa is the only country in the world to have two Nobel Peace Prize winners, who had furthermore homes on the same street. The two are Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tude
  • The South African Constitution are very much regarded as being one of the most progressive in the world
  • South Africa is so far he only known African country that’s a member of the G20
  • South Africa the only country to have a staggering 11 official languages
  • The only country to build nuclear weapons and voluntarily dismantle them is also South Africa

Voting Polls and Stations and more

The Independent Electoral Commission manages the voting polls and stations. The IEC make sure that voting are above all free and fair. They work independently from the Government.

The IEC requires a registration fee from all political parties
Voting stations are most noteworthy not more than 7.5 kilometers apart.

Furthermore during voting the different voting stations recruit volunteers to assist the public. These volunteers receive training and also receive remunerations for the days they worked.

Just interesting titbits

  • Prisoners in South African jails may also vote
  • Six million young voters did not register to vote due to not being interested
  • Another 4 million eligible voters also did not register to vote
  • Registered voter turnout in 2019 was almost 71%
  • The poorest districts had the highest voters due to them believing in voting for change.
  • Only about 18.5% of first time voters registered to vote
  • Seems like 90% of voters over 40 years of age registered to vote
  • Most noteworthy the countries aboard who had the most South African voters are: London, Dubai, The Hague, Canbera, Abu Dabi and also Wellington, Dublin, Kinshasa, Ne York and Doha
  • South Africa maybe include e-voting in the next elections


‘Watch your back’ at Luthuli House, Mr President – FW de Klerk Foundation warns written by Kamva Somdyala

“The foundation” said Ramaphosa, who has shown himself t on a path of reform, would be wary of those who were not considered good enough for the Cabinet.

Go ahead and also read I voted did you and read the gripping article on 5 Infamous South Africans


Elections in Democratic South Africa

Timeline of South Africa


South African parliament

The history of South Africa’s Apartheid system

South African Government

Leave a comment - Please no racism, hate speech or explicit language. Thank you

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.