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IEC tightens management of media channels to stem disinformation ahead of elections


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IEC tightens management of media channels to stem disinformation ahead of elections

Image of Sy Mamabolo
Photo by Darlene Creamer
IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo

29th January 2024

By: Thabi Shomolekae
Creamer Media Senior Writer


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With the adverse effects of misinformation and disinformation on the integrity of any electoral process, the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has added extra capacity and expertise to produce engaging content and manage media channels effectively for the 2024 national elections.

This year marks the seventh general national and provincial elections in South Africa.


Elections are expected to be held between mid-May and August, according to IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo, who highlighted that the commission is about to conclude consultations with the President.

Speaking during the 'Information Regulator International Data Privacy Day' webinar, on Monday, Mamabolo said the IEC had improved its stakeholder engagement with business, civil society and government to share content and leverage audiences on social media.


Information Regulator chairperson Pansy Tlakula noted that misinformation and disinformation are global issues with a great impact on elections and democracy.

The Information Regulator explained that the spread of false information had the consequence of misleading the public or causing harm to the electoral process.

“The spread of false information happens quite often due to the ease of accessing and disseminating information on various platforms such as television, radio and social media. Misinformation and disinformation are disruptive, divisive and can cause chaos and loss of trust in the electoral process,” the Regulator said.

Mamabolo noted that the commission was geared up for improved responsiveness, especially in a crisis such as allegations of voter fraud or dumped ballots.

He said the partnership with Media Monitoring Africa and social media platforms would be a major contribution to managing disinformation and misinformation while adding value to civic education through dedicated pages.

He said that social media was a crucial tool in the IEC’s outreach arsenal as it was cost-effective, had greater speed than traditional media, and had “infinitely more measurable” reach, although, he noted that it was deemed less trustworthy.

He said about 4.8-billion people across the world use social media and in South Africa 25.8-million of the country’s 43.4-million Internet users are active on social media.


The IEC held its first voter registration weekends in November last year, with the second one scheduled to be held this weekend.

Mamabolo explained that following the registration weekend of citizens abroad over this past weekend, the voter’s roll for the first time stands at just over 27-million.

He said during the 2019 elections the IEC recorded 26.7-million people on the voter’s roll. The IEC suffered major losses during the Covid-19 pandemic; however, it had been able to reverse these losses, he noted.

The IEC will on Wednesday and Thursday visit correctional services centres for the registration of inmates.


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