South Africans, prone to being a rambunctious lot, head to the polls tomorrow in what’s expected to be the most closely contested election since 1994. They will do so with less protection from disinformation and hate speech than voters in the US and the European Union because, as Guy Berger points out, social media companies still hold tight control over access to data in the global south. Without access, researchers can’t do a thorough job of tracking dangerous behaviour on social media platforms.

The elections will also take place under a revised electoral regime. Dirk Kotze explains the changes in the contest that will decide who runs the country and its nine provinces.

It’s been a particularly heated campaign with the launch of former president Jacob Zuma’s new party, the MK Party. It has adopted the same colours and language as the ruling ANC. As Corinne Sandwith writes, its decision to use the ANC’s 100-year-old “Mayibuye!” (Restore!) liberation slogan points to deep divisions.

We have also gathered previously published articles that shed light on some of the issues that loom large over these elections. One such issue is the sharp increase in the number of South Africans who depend on social assistance.

We publish analysis from researchers with deep knowledge of topics. It’s for their insights that you read and subscribe to The Conversation. Please consider supporting this important work with a donation.

Jabulani Sikhakhane


Hate speech and disinformation in South Africa’s elections: big tech make it tough to monitor social media

Guy Berger, Rhodes University

Social media platforms need to open up data to Africans and researchers in the global south.

South Africans go to the polls to choose a new government: what’s different this time

Dirk Kotze, University of South Africa

The growing loss of support for the governing ANC raises the possibility of South Africa having its first national coalition government since 1994.

Mayibuye! The 100-year-old slogan that’s stirred up divisions in South Africa’s elections

Corinne Sandwith, University of Pretoria

Former president Jacob Zuma’s MK Party borrows the slogan “mayibuye” from the liberation party to make a point about the ruling African National Congress.

Over 26 million South Africans get a social grant. Fear of losing the payment used to be a reason to vote for the ANC, but no longer – study

Leila Patel, University of Johannesburg; Yolanda Sadie, University of Johannesburg

Many grant recipients are young, unemployed, and not necessarily loyal to the governing ANC like older generations.

What is a secular state? How South Africa has tried to separate religion and politics

Calvin D. Ullrich, University of the Free State

Political secularism in South Africa is shaping into a tense contest between the relative ambitions of state and religious actors.

South African elections: research explores how disillusioned ANC supporters might use their vote

Michael Braun, University of the Witwatersrand

The 2024 elections may be the tipping point that enables opposition parties to portray themselves as viable contenders in forming a national coalition government.

South Africa elections: Zuma’s MK Party has hit the campaign trail with provocative rhetoric and few clear policies

Mashupye Herbert Maserumule, Tshwane University of Technology

Opinion polls show that the uMkhonto weSizwe party enjoys significant support in KwaZulu-Natal, Jacob Zuma’s home province.

South Africa’s electricity crisis: what political parties say in their election manifestos about solving it

Hartmut Winkler, University of Johannesburg

As South Africa heads towards elections, there is no quick fix solution to the electricity crisis in the country. What exactly are the political parties promising voters?

Drained but proud: how it felt to organise South Africa’s first democratic election in just 4 months

Kealeboga J Maphunye, University of South Africa

The electoral commission had only four months for work which normally takes two to three years. In the end, the election succeeded because the nation wanted it to succeed.


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