Time is running out for South Africans who wish to cast their votes in the upcoming national and provincial elections. The deadline to register for the Elections 2024 is set for Friday, 23 February, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa has designated May 29 as the polling date for the upcoming elections.

For those who have not yet registered to vote, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has provided accessible avenues. Interested individuals can either visit the IEC’s offices in their respective municipalities or utilize the electoral body’s online registration portal.

Minhaj Jeenah, the Executive Director of My Vote Counts, emphasized in an interview with Radio Islam that voters wield unprecedented power, both on the ballot paper and beyond.

“This election is an uncertain election, for the first time we don’t know who is going to govern after the votes are counted, which makes our politics more fluid,” he said.

There is significant concern surrounding the issue of poor voter turnout. “We will know the percentage of voters registered will be made known by next week. A consistent problem is getting people to actually show up to vote. The number of people registered is not the same as the amount of people who show up to vote,” he explained.

The forthcoming elections mark a significant milestone in South Africa’s political landscape, as it will be the first time voters can cast their ballots for independent candidates at the national level. This shift means that the ballot paper will present a new format, featuring not only the logos of political parties but also the faces of independent candidates.

President Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of democratic participation, urging all eligible South Africans to exercise their right to vote peacefully and lawfully. He also encouraged those engaged in campaigning to uphold the principles of fair and lawful conduct.

“South Africans should remember that while the vote holds immense importance, it is not the sole determinant of democracy. Rather, it is one among many tools available to citizens to effect change. While it doesn’t directly solve challenges like electricity and housing issues, it empowers individuals to engage in the democratic process and advocate for meaningful change,” said Jeenah.

The Electoral Commission issued a statement welcoming the development in response to the election date announcement. IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela reiterated the importance of voter registration, highlighting that eligible citizens have until Friday, 23 February 2024, to register.

Jeenah pointed out the significance of today’s deadline, stating that the IEC needs sufficient time to develop what they call the ‘voters roll’, which is the list of people actually registered. “This roll serves as a basis for setting up ballots and voting stations in different areas,” he said.

As the registration deadline draws near, South Africans are reminded of the significance of their participation in shaping the country’s future through the ballot box. The democratic process relies on the active engagement of citizens.

LISTEN to the full interview with Ml Sulaimaan Ravat and Minhaj Jeenah, Executive Director of My Vote Counts, here.