The IEC effectively registered new parties, but struggled with voter education
Written by Neo Molefi on January 17, 2024
Written by: Tasha Siziba
The fact that the IEC has abandoned voter education to be carried out by desperate politicians on the campaign road should worry us all. Having a large number of registered political parties may be advantageous since they have evolved into opportunistic platforms for voter awareness and education as they reach out to various populations and constituencies. Where is there IEC?
South African Rainbow Alliance (Sara)’s President Colleen Makhubele, says it is unbelievably sad to hear tertiary level students express ignorance on how to register to vote. It’s embarrassing that most black women have no interest in voting.
Makhubele reiterates that the IEC has not made provisions to help retail employees register to vote or learn about voter rights after long workdays, excluding 40% of the labour force.
“Despite the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) having registered over 400 Political Parties, indications are that voter turnout out will still be low. But the IEC has done a poor job in voter registration which is a consequence of poor voter education especially to the youth.”
Why educate voters?
Voter education and civic education are crucial for effective and democratic elections, as they ensure all voters understand their political system, rights, and voting process. In post-conflict nations, where political circumstances may be unstable, voter and civic education are even more crucial.
Voter education is the provision of information and resources to educate voters on the voting process, including registration, checking voter lists, election types, candidates, and filing complaints, ensuring voter awareness and participation.
Civic education aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of a nation’s political environment, including political, social, and economic issues, election authority, democracy, equal rights, and peace within the nation.
Despite over 400 registered political parties, voter turnout is expected to be low due to inadequate voter education, especially among young people, by the Independent Electoral Commission.
Makhubele says voter education programs should include special communications for young eligible voters on how to register and cast a ballot.
She further requests, could IEC please put in a little more work and launch a more effective and thorough campaign to guarantee that every South African has the chance to register to vote. They could extend business hours and visit commercial centers and higher education institutions.