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Unpacking the South African Non-voter

This webinar launches an in-depth research paper by Dr Collette Schulz-Herzenberg that delves into this crucial topic.​​​​​​​

On 8 May 2019, South Africans voted in their sixth democratic national and provincial elections. A record 26.7 million eligible South Africans registered to vote in the election. The registered population represented 74.6% of the total voting age population, of over 35.8 million. Over 17.6 million voters participated on election day, yet electoral participation decreased quite dramatically, accelerating the steady decline in voter turnout across South Africa’s previous democratic elections.

Voter turnout is regarded as a crucial indicator of the vitality and health of a democracy. High turnout is a sign of an enthusiastic and politically involved electorate while low turnout is associated with voter apathy and even mistrust of the political process.
Join Sheilan Clarke of My Vote Counts and John Steenhuisen, Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), as they unpack the various factors at play, and possible solutions.

Expert input will be provided by Dr Collette Schulz-Herzenberg of Stellenbosch University. The discussion will be moderated by constitutional law expert Rebecca Sibanda, of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group.

Event Details

8 December 2020

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Past Event



Collette Schulz-Herzenberg holds a BA Hons in Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London University), and an M.Sc in Democratic Governance, and a PhD in Politics from the University of Cape Town (UCT).  She since completed her postdoctoral fellowship with the Centre for Social Science Research at UCT in 2013, specialising in South African voter behaviour. Collette has a growing track record in academic publications and an extensive published record in policy-based research including two edited volumes on the 2014 and the 2019 South African elections, both published by Jacana Media. Collette was awarded a three-year duration NRF Grant in December 2018 to implement a South African nationally representative post-election study following the 2019 elections. She has 15 years of work experience in the academic and policy-based research arena, previously working as a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, and with the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa), specializing in issues of democracy and governance, corruption and public sector ethics, social justice and human rights, taxation, and citizenship. Collette also consults as a governance specialist for a variety of research-based and non-profit organisations in the region, and an elections specialist for South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) during elections.

Sheilan Clarke has close to 10 years media and advocacy experience. This experience ranges from traveling to all provinces to engage communities on various campaigns and topics, to advocating for policy in the South African Parliament. Currently, she is the Communications Officer for the lobby group My Vote Counts.

John Steenhuisen was elected Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) at the DA Federal Congress on 1 November 2020. John previously assumed the role of interim Federal Leader from November 2019, having  served as the Chief Whip of the Official Opposition from May 2014 to October 2019. John has been a public representative for over 20 years. He has been serving as a member of the National Assembly since July 2011. Prior to his appointment to the National Assembly, John was involved with the politics of KwaZulu-Natal first being elected as a councillor in Durban at the age of 22 and serving as the Provincial Leader of the DA and the Party’s Caucus Leader in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature.

Rebecca Sibanda is a constitutional law expert, with a background in human rights and international law. Her experience in the South African constitutional law space includes participation in legislative change, and the monitoring and evaluation of the state’s constitutional obligations to its citizens.

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