Free and fair elections?

August 29th, 2016
Mapula Thebe – editor

Mapula Thebe – editor

On the heels of the local government elections held on 3 August, the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) issued a press release, which states that ‘the elections were on the whole free and fair’. The LSSA fielded a team of over 300 admitted attorney election observers during the local government elections.

The press release goes on further to state that there were some irregularities that were observed during the elections. The LSSA will investigate the irregularities further; all the details regarding these will be noted fully in the final report, which will be published during August.

It goes without saying that free and fair elections are part and parcel of any thriving democracy. Therefore any observed irregularities during elections would go against the very reason elections are held in a democratic society in the first place.

Meanwhile, media reports in the aftermath of the elections state that the African National Congress (ANC) is considering changing the Electoral Act, which it blames for benefiting opposition parties at its expense. The ANC were to discuss the electoral system and the calculation of allocated seats at its upcoming national executive committee meeting. The election results show that the ANC received the most votes across the country; amongst others, it had to seek coalitions in three important metros in Gauteng after losing Nelson Mandela Bay, in the Eastern Cape to the Democratic Alliance. The support of the ANC has fallen from 62% of the national vote in 2011 to 54% in the 2016 local government elections.

Whether there are legitimate grounds to change the Electoral Act, or whether this is just the case of the ruling party’s denial to its apparent lack of confidence by the public remains to be seen. Either way, these are both signs of a healthy democracy.


Would you like to write for De Rebus?

De Rebus welcomes article contributions in all 11 official languages, especially from legal practitioners. Practitioners and others who wish to submit feature articles, practice notes, case notes, opinion pieces and letters can e-mail their contributions to

The decision on whether to publish a particular submission is that of the De Rebus Editorial Committee, whose decision is final. In general, contributions should be useful or of interest to practising attorneys and must be original and not published elsewhere. For more information, see the ‘Guidelines for articles in De Rebus’ on our website (

  • Please note that the word limit is 2000 words.
  • Upcoming deadlines for article submissions: 19 September and 17 October 2016.



This article was first published in De Rebus in 2016 (Sept) DR 3.


De Rebus