By Nomonde Mnukwa
This month South Africa marked ten years since the passing of former President Nelson Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba. Widely recognised as the father of the nation, Nelson Mandela was the first democratically elected President of South Africa and played a key role in fostering a spirit of nation building and togetherness.
He showed us that love can conquer hate and that we should help those who are less fortunate in our communities. Throughout his life, Madiba inspired and brought out the best in people and his legacy guides us on our path to move our country forward.
The anniversary was an opportunity to remind ourselves that our nation has always been about ordinary people, doing extraordinary things. It is also an opportunity for each and every South African to continue living the legacy of Madiba.
The actions of Madiba and countless others has laid a strong foundation for our democracy to flourish, but ultimately it is up to us as a nation to chart our collective course and build the country that works for all of us. Building a country that works for everyone starts with registering for the 2024 National and Provincial Elections. Next year’s elections will be historic, as independent candidates will for the first time be able to contest for seats at the national and provincial elections.
As is the norm in the build up to elections, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has started holding voter registration weekends to allow all eligible voters to register to vote. The IEC held its first successful voter registration weekend on 18-19 November 2023 and another voter registration weekend will be held on the 3rd-4th of February 2024.
We thank all eligible voters who heeded to call to register to vote during the weekend of 18-19 November 2023. It is pleasing to note that over 2.9 million South Africans interacted with the IEC. Eligible citizens registering for the first time were 568 374 while voters who re-registered in the same voting district numbered 1.4 million, and those who re-registered in different voting districts were 929 564.
You are eligible to register to vote if you are a South African citizen; At least 16 years and older (you can only vote from age 18); and in possession of a green bar-coded ID book, smart ID card or valid temporary identity certificate.
Those with access to internet do not have to wait for the registration weekend but can register online at https://registertovote.elections.org.za. Online voter registration has been open since 20 February 2023.
Next year’s elections coincide with the commemoration of 30 years of freedom and democracy. The commemoration provides the opportunity to reflect on what it was like to have lived in apartheid South Africa. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the changes that have taken place since 1994, the challenges that remain, and the way forward for the country.
Using the legacy of Madiba we can rise to even greater heights and find ways to take our nation forward. To do this we will need the help of all South Africans and all sectors of society to build on the achievements we have made so far and ensure that we grow the economy, create jobs and bring hope for a better tomorrow.
Nomonde Mnukwa is Acting Director General of GCIS