Registration Weekend to be held on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 September 2021

Everything you need to know about the coming Municipal Elections: Municipal Elections will take place on 1 November 2021. Find out why local government matters, how to register for the elections, and why it’s so important that you do vote – even during a pandemic!

What are we voting for?

Municipal elections – also known as local government elections – are held in South Africa every five years to elect councilors who will govern a municipality for five years.

You may be wondering what electing municipal councils and councillors have to do with you, but in fact they touch your daily life in every way. Municipal councils and councilors ensure that every city, town, township and rural area have the necessary services for their citizens, including water, electricity, health/clinics, emergency response, roads, and waste removal.

Where you live will determine what type of municipality you have. Local government in South Africa is made up of three types of municipalities, namely:

  1. Metropolitan municipalities which are large cities (there are 8 in South Africa);
  2. Local municipalities which are spread across towns and rural areas (there are 205 in South Africa); and
  3. District municipalities which incorporate local municipalities sharing services such as water supply, thereby creating a region within a province (there are 44 in South Africa).

As municipalities have wall-to-wall coverage of the country, every geographic area of the country falls within a municipality, all of which are run by councillors.

Why should you vote?

There are a few very important reasons why you should vote:

  1. It’s your Constitutional responsibility: While South Africa doesn’t have compulsory voting like some other countries, our Constitution gives citizens rights along with responsibilities. Chapter 1, Section 3 of the Constitution says that all citizens are equally entitled to the rights, privileges and benefits of citizenship and equally subjected to the duties and responsibilities of citizenship. A crucial responsibility given to all citizens over 18 years old is to participate in our democracy!
  2. Vote to have say who is elected public representative in your city, town and area. If you don’t vote you won’t have a say in who is elected to lead your city or town: Elections are a chance for ordinary citizens to come together to determine democratically who is elected as their representative on the municipal council – and what key issues they are going to promote for the next five years. If you don’t participate, others are going to choose for you!
  3. Democracy and democratic political rights were hard earned rights the world over, but in South Africa it was the liberty struggles that achieved equality for all. People died so you can vote: Until just 27 years ago, the majority of South African citizens were denied the right to vote and have any say in how the country was run. Many thousands of people died, were beaten, tortured and jailed for demanding the right to vote – a right you enjoy today!

Who can vote?

All South African citizens aged 18 years or older who are registered on the national common voters’ roll are eligible to vote in elections. You can only vote once (per ballot paper) and only in the voting district in which you are registered.

You must register where you live most of the time. When you register in the area where you live, your name will appear on the voters’ roll for that voting district. There are 23 151 voting districts for this year’s elections.

How to register?

Currently South Africa’s voters’ roll has 25,66 million registered voters. Based on population estimates from Statistics South Africa, about 15 million South Africans who are eligible to vote are not registered. Of these, about 60% are under the age of 30!

This is not necessarily a reflection of so-called ‘voter apathy’ by young people. Young voters have simply had fewer opportunities to register than older voters – with millions only qualifying for registration over the past two years since the 2019 general elections.

If you’re a first-time voter, there are two easy ways to register:

  1. Visit the voting station for the area in which you live on the only Registration Weekend to be held on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 September 2021. All voting stations will be open from 8am to 5pm to help you register quickly and easily. Remember to wear a mask and observe social distancing!
  2. If you have internet access, you can also register online anywhere, anytime at registertovote.elections.org.za until proclamation of the elections, expected on 20 September 2021. It’s safe, quick and easy.

All you need to register is your South African ID – either a smart ID card, green ID book or a valid temporary ID. You will also need your address details (but you don’t need proof of address).

Have more questions? Contact the IEC

@IECSouthAfrica on Facebook or Twitter

IEC helpline 0800 11 8000

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WhatsApp ‘Hi’ to 060 088 0000

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