Observers Say Elections Were Free, Fair

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) has found that most of the 12 million voters that cast their ballot gave the local government elections the thumbs up.

“An overwhelming majority of sampled voters (95%) feel that the election procedures were free,” said the HSRC on Wednesday.

“Provincially, this ranges from 90% in the Western Cape to 98% in Mpumalanga.

“Similarly, 94% of the voters are of the opinion that the election procedures were fair. Provincially, this figure varies between 90% in the Western Cape and 99% in Mpumalanga.”

The HSRC was commissioned by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to conduct two studies related to the 2021 Local Government Elections.

Firstly a Voter Participation Survey (VPS), which was conducted in September-October 2021, and secondly an Election Satisfaction Survey conducted on Election Day.

The main aim of the Election Satisfaction Survey 2021 was to determine opinions and perceptions of voters regarding the “freeness and fairness” of the electoral process.

A further aim of the study was to assess the operational efficiency of the Electoral Commission in managing the 2021 Local Government Elections.  
There have been complaints of voters being turned away because they did not appear on the voters’ roll and chaotic queues at polling stations.

Meanwhile, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) announced on Wednesday that it successfully completed its observation of the elections on Monday.

“The mission of our observers was to witness and observe the unfolding voting process throughout the country during voting day to ensure that men and women, and boys and girls eligible to vote, were afforded opportunities to exercise this democratic right, free of gender discrimination or any other gender related impediments,” explained the CGE.

“Based on the experiences and feedback received from our Observers throughout the country, the CGE wishes to issue this preliminary statement indicating that we have found no evidence of systematic and/or systemic discrimination or impediment against any South African citizen based on gender.

“The commission also wishes to laud the Electoral Commission of South Africa on fielding a sufficiently gender-diverse team of election officials under the leadership of Presiding Officers in voting stations observed by the CGE Team throughout the country.”

The CGE said while it was “generally pleased with the absence of significant gender-related impediments during the voting process, we do wish to express our concern with the lower voter turnout that has become the major talking point of these elections”.