7 February 2014
South Africa’s national and provincial elections – the fifth general elections since the country attained democracy in 1994 – will take place on Wednesday, 7 May, President Jacob Zuma announced on Friday.
Zuma’s announcement comes just ahead of the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC’s) final voter registration weekend. The IEC registered over 1-million first-time voters during its last registration weekend in November, bringing the number of registered voters in the country to 24.1-million registered voters, representing 76% of those eligible to vote.
On Thursday, IEC Chairperson Pansy Tlakula said they were aiming to register another million new voters this weekend.
In a statement issued on Friday, Zuma said that he had consulted with the IEC before deciding on the 7 May election date, and was satisfied that their preparations for the elections were “at an advanced stage”.
“These are historic elections, as they take place during the 20th anniversary of our freedom from apartheid bondage,” he said. “They provide an opportunity for us to further consolidate the democracy and freedom that we worked so hard to achieve, and for which esteemed South Africans such as former president Nelson Mandela sacrificed life’s comforts.
“Our country is a much better place to live in now than before 1994, because of the participation and contribution of South Africans,” Zuma said, adding: “We must continue participating in building our country.”
He encouraged South Africans who have not yet registered to vote to take advantage of this weekend’s voter registration, adding that young people should take care to register to vote in the cities and towns where they will be studying and where they will be come 7 May.
“We congratulate all first time voters, the 18-year-olds. They are coming of age this year. They will be deciding the future of their beautiful country.”
The President urged all South Africans “to promote peace, tolerance and peaceful coexistence as we move towards the elections and during the elections.
“We have worked hard to build a peaceful and stable South Africa from the ruins of apartheid violence, divisions and hatred. Let us make this a vibrant, robust, exciting, peaceful and most successful election, and maintain our track record of successful elections.”