National and provincial elections are held once every five years.
All South African citizens aged 18 and over are eligible to vote.
The Constitution places all elections and referendums in the country in all three spheres of government under the control of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), established in terms of the IEC Act, 1996 (Act 51 of 1996) [PDF] .
The obligations of the IEC are to:
- manage elections of national, provincial and municipal legislative bodies
- ensure that those elections are free and fair
- declare the results of those elections
- compile and maintain a voters' roll.
The duties of the IEC are to:
- compile and maintain a register of parties
- undertake and promote research into electoral matters
- develop and promote the development of electoral expertise and technology in all spheres of government
- continuously review electoral laws and proposed electoral laws, and make recommendations
- promote voter education
- declare the results of elections for national, provincial and municipal legislative bodies within seven days
- appoint appropriate public administrations in any sphere of government to conduct elections when necessary.
The IEC manages an average of approximately 130 by-elections a year. By-elections are held when ward councillors vacate their seats for a variety of reasons including death, resignation or expulsion from the party or the council.