Who will get the votes?

Date: 25 May 2024 By: Anton van Zyl

The number 46 is significant when discussing the candidates for the 2024 national elections. This is the average age of the candidates, not only those on the national list but also on the provincial and regional lists.

This figure is quite notable because it means, on average, these candidates were not eligible to vote in the 1994 elections, being only 16 years old at the time. In fact, many of them were not even born when South Africans of all races queued to make their mark in the country’s first democratic elections.

This year, South Africans who wish to exercise their right to vote need to indicate their preferences on three ballot papers. The national ballot paper lists 52 parties, and those with the most votes will send their delegates to serve in the National Assembly. The regional ballot paper presents a choice of 35 parties and three independent candidates, who will serve in the National Assembly for a specific region. Finally, the provincial ballot paper, where Limpopo residents will choose between 30 parties and two independent candidates, will determine who serves in the Provincial Legislature.

In total, 14,886 candidates are contesting for 887 seats. However, some duplicates occur as some names appear on more than one list. To assess the “weight” of the candidates, the best way to compare them might be the provincial list, which contains 6,915 names. Only 3,012, or 43.6%, of the candidates on this list were eligible to vote on 27 April 1994. Additionally, 688 candidates are under 30 and were born after the historic first democratic elections.

Despite these statistics, the candidates are not necessarily young. The oldest candidate is the Pan African Congress of Azania’s Marshall Mashaha Ramokgopa, who will turn 85 in October this year. He is only a few months older than his fellow PAC member, Isaac Mafoko. Both hail from Limpopo. However, that Ramokgopa will head to Cape Town to take his seat in the National Assembly is unlikely, since his name is only 138th on the national list. He will probably place his hopes on the provincial list, where he is 29th on the PAC’s list.

The oldest candidate in the top 10 of the party lists was former president Jacob Zuma, aged 82 as the number one candidate for the newly formed Umkhonto We Sizwe party. On Monday, 20 May, the Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma was not eligible to stand for election.

The Freedom Front Plus appears to aim for sending a highly experienced team to provincial parliament, with Werner Weber (81) as the number one on the Mpumalanga list and Willem van Dyk (80) as number five for the same province. Petrus Marais (80) is the number seven candidate on the list of the FF+ in the Western Cape. The average age of the 200 candidates on the national list of the FF+ is 54.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are the “young guns.” The youngest candidate on the provincial list for the Free State is 18-year-old Moleboheng Yvonne Molelekoa, who is number 15 for Build One South Africa with Mmusi Maimane’s party. She is barely two months older than Kutlo Maree, a candidate from the South African Youth Power party contesting for a seat in the Northern Cape provincial legislature.

Limpopo Province boasts both old and young candidates. The oldest candidate is 85-year-old Marshall Ramokgopa, while the youngest is Tumisho Brigett Maringa, who turned 18 in January this year and is number 19 on the United Democratic Movement’s list. Another 18-year-old candidate is Hashu Ben Junior Mankhili, number seven for the ACDP in the province. Hashu is also the youngest candidate on the regional list. The oldest candidate on this list is Etienne Stevenson Chauke (72), the number six candidate for Able Leadership. Susanne Clarke (71) of the FF+ is the second-oldest candidate, and Able Leadership’s Msindo Love Maluleke (71) is the third oldest. Maluleke is number one on the ACDP’s regional list.

Unfortunately, the list of candidates does not indicate gender, making the number of female candidates compared to male candidates difficult to determine. However, the IEC stated in a press release that 58.14% of the candidates are male. Exactly how many female candidates appear in the top-10 lists of political parties remains unclear.

* The data used for this article comes from the list of candidates made available by the IEC on 10 April this year. Nominations of candidates closed on 8 March 2024, whereafter processes of verifications and objections followed. For this reason, Jacob Zuma’s name appears here.



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Anton van Zyl

Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror since 1990. He graduated from the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.


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