The 1st of November has been designated as the official voting day for the local elections in 2021 and is now in the process of becoming a public holiday.
South Africa (21 September 2021) – Local elections are set to take place on the 1st of November 2021, and talks are that the day is set to be classed as a public holiday. Hence, voters get the opportunity to cast their vote at a reasonable hour.
South Africans love a public holiday; it makes the weekends longer or gives that desired mid-week break to help get through to the weekend. Usually, after Heritage Day, we have to wait until December for the next public holiday, and these usually coincide with the December holidays over the festive season. Still, now the 1st of November is becoming a public holiday so the country can host a free and fair election.
Technically, it is the law to make a voting day a public holiday, but a few processes need to take place for that to happen. Thembelani Mazibuko from the South African Electoral Institute explains that while it is the law, the day still needs to be requester, gazetted and announced by the president.
“This, in principle, allows for a free and fair election. Therefore the President will declare Voting Day a public holiday. The IEC has to issue a request to the Minister of Home Affairs to facilitate this process. Once it has been officially gazetted, it will then be announced by the President as a public holiday to allow all people to vote.“ Thembelani Mazibuko
The steps are being followed; so far, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has gazetted November 1 as the date for the local government elections. The IEC has since written to Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to ask him to facilitate a request to the President that election day, November 1, be declared a public holiday. Now we wait for the president to officially declare Monday the 1st of November as a public holiday for voters.
We know there will be people who have no choice but to work on this day, and they will feel less motivated to get out there and vote, but you have a right to vote and can apply for special voting for the two days preceding the election day. If you need to apply for special voting, you can do so here.
So while it is exhilarating to have the long weekend, it is vital to remember the power your vote has and to take that seriously. South Africans are being discouraged from using the long weekend as a way to go away.