- This year will be the most contested elections in terms of the number of participants since the dawn of democracy.
- There will be over 30 000 more candidates participating on 1 November than there were in the 2016 elections.
- Independent candidates have increased exponentially, with almost double the number than in the 2016 elections.
The looming 2021 municipal elections will be the most contested the country has ever seen in terms of the number of participating candidates.
This was revealed by Sy Mamabolo, the chief electoral commissioner of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), during the launch of the opening of the Results Operation Centre on Tuesday.
He also gave an update on the IEC's state of readiness to hold the elections.
Mamabolo said the 2016 municipal elections saw just over 63 000 candidates take part, but this year there were 95 427 candidates registered and qualified to participate. It equates to an increase of over 30 000 more participants.
According to Mamabolo, 61 111, of the 95 427 candidates, will contest in the ward elections, while 34 316 of these candidates will contest for proportional representation seats.
The number of independent candidates has also grown exponentially.
While there were only 855 independent candidates contesting in 2016, almost double that number - 1 546 - would be contesting this year's elections.
Mamabolo said Johannesburg would be the most contested municipal council in the country, with 56 political parties in the metro's proportional representation ballot.
There were an unprecedented 1.1 million more special votes for the 2021 elections.
Eastern Cape had the most special votes, at 201 239 approved voters.
Mamabolo emphasised that special votes had assumed heightened importance in this year's elections, given the Covid-19 context, which required the IEC to reduce congestion at voting stations on election day.
"We have matching human and material resources to enable us to complete the 507 318 home visits and the 602 781 voting station-based special votes," said Mamabolo.
The special votes take place on 30 and 31 October.
In total, eligible voters are set to elect 10 461 councillors in the 257 different municipal councils, comprising eight metropolitan councils, 44 district councils and 205 local councils.