The Electoral Commission (IEC) says it is not responsible for the poor voter turnout in the 2021 local government elections, saying it predicted this three months ago.
The turnout is estimated at 47%, the lowest since 1994.
Providing an update from the national results centre in Pretoria on Tuesday, the commission condemned attacks levelled against it.
“The commission would like to call upon all leaders of political parties to act and speak responsibly as the result collation process unfolds. As you will recall, the commission had anticipated the prospect of a lower voter turnout in July and approached the Constitutional Court. Nonetheless, the commission implemented an extensive education and communication campaign to ensure voters turned out to vote.”
“This included educational programmes that assured voters it would be safe to be at a voting station. Furthermore, it is important to realise voter turnout is a multifaceted phenomenon influenced by different factors,” said the commission’s CEO Sy Mamabolo.
It also attributed the low turnout to factors outside the purview of the commission, including disruptions to services and lack of trust in political institutions.
“Regrettably, unwarranted attacks on the commission could potentially also influence voter turnout. In the analysis of voter turnout, the Covid-19 context in which the election happened should not be forgotten. The national message has been that people must not be in congregate environments.”
Despite the attacks, the commission said it estimated that 90% of the results would be finalised by Tuesday evening.
The balance would take another 24-hours to complete and the final results are expected to be released on Thursday.
IEC commissioner Janet Love also condemned the attacks levelled against the commission, including by political parties.
“Before these elections being embarked on, there were a number of political party leaders who felt it was to make truly unfounded and untested allegations against the integrity of the people in the commission,” she said.
Electoral Commission CEO Sy Mamabolo says the IEC had predicted a lower voter turnout for this year’s local government elections.
Image: Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe