Celebrating free, fair elections

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pretoria - Since the first democratic elections in 1994, South Africa has had regular elections every five years.

Releasing the 20 Year Review on Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma said the year 2014 represents a historic milestone of 20 years of freedom and democracy in the country.

He further described it as an occasion to reflect on what has been achieved in the country over the past 20 years, by South Africans working together.

“We have the honour today to release the Presidency’s 20 Year Review, which is our contribution to the celebration and discussions about the progress made, and work that still needs to be done to move South Africa forward,” he said.

Unlike many other countries with a longer post-colonial history, South Africa’s electoral institutions command enormous respect as electoral results are roundly accepted as free and fair.

The 20 Year Review noted that despite an inevitable decline in turn-out after the landmark 1994 elections, turnout levels in subsequent elections have remained generally good, with slight declines in 1999 and 2004, but an increase in the 2009 elections.

“The institutions of representative democracy such as Parliament, provincial legislatures and municipal councils are today generally well established both in terms of their functioning and composition.

South Africa has been able to hold eight democratic elections which were considered free and fair and were not contested legally by all political parties,” reads the Review.

The 2010/11 annual report of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) indicated that the voter’s roll has increased by 30% since 1999.

“There are many other positives, including that a growing proportion of the population is living in formal accommodation; gender inequalities in access to jobs is declining across all regions of the country; new public transport systems are being developed; parts of our cities are desegregating; inner cities are regenerating and levels of servicing are rising in urban areas.”

President Zuma said now, there is representative legislatures, an independent judiciary, public audit, Reserve Bank, and an independent constitutional bodies to provide checks and balances and protect the rights of citizens.

“Thanks to our progressive Constitution, we enjoy freedom of movement and of association, the right to own property, the right not to be detained without trial, freedom of expression and freedom of the press, religious freedom and freedom of sexual orientation,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

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