The cost of democracy

The budget has set aside millions for the national elections this year and the 2021 local government elections through a number of departments.

Like with the previous general election, the IEC’s budget already shot up last year and will remain high this year. The last time there was a national election, in 2014, the IEC’s funding almost doubled the preceding year from R871 million to R1.6 billion.

This time the increase was similar: from R1.3 billion to R2 billion - an additional R700 million. This year the IEC gets another R2 billion. The extra money has been spent on registration work and the almost 500 000 temporary workers the elections will require at 23 000 voting stations.

The South African Police Service gets an additional R180 million related to this year’s election. This is for extra compensation for officers who escort ballots and guard “medium and high risk” voting stations.

When it is all over, the presidency plans to spend R120 million on the inauguration of - in all likelihood - a re-elected president Cyril Ramaphosa.

This is set to be a far grander event than Jacob Zuma’s last election party which had a budget of R80 million to “cater for all the logistical arrangements and the diplomatic and protocol services” related to the inauguration.

Spending for the next election, the local government election in 2021, is also already starting. Home Affairs will send R295 million to the IEC from the Represented Political Parties’ Fund for 2021 preparations.

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