The controversial 'Vote No' campaign

The campaign has generated debate among pundits and had varied reactions from political parties.

FILE: Former Cabinet Minister Ronnie Kasrils and Former Deputy Minister of Defence Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge during the launch of the 'Vote No' campaign in April 2014. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The 'Vote No' campaig n, headed by struggle veterans Ronnie Kasrils and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge has generated unabated controversy about the campaign's effectiveness and impact.

The leaders of the campaign have explained that they are not asking South Africans not to vote, but are instead asking citizens to use their ballot, either through spoiling their ballot or tactically voting for smaller opposition parties, to show their dissatisfaction with the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Kasrils has also expressed his dissatisfaction for the biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and reportedly explained that "as a socialist I reject the Democratic Alliance's economic policies".

Madlala-Routledge and Kasrils are part of more than 100 veterans who have signed a document entitled

"Sidikiwe! Vukani! Vote no!" translated as "We are fed up! Wake up! Vote no!".

The campaign has generated vociferous debate among pundits and caused varied reactions among political parties themselves. Some ANC struggle veterans, such as Former Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad, have condemned the ampaign and the ANC itself said it was unfazed by the campaign's objective.

Kasrils underscored the campaign's main motivation: "I see no hope in the ANC reinstating the former values of this movement unless there is a revolution within which throws out a leadership bent on serving their own narrow personal interests over service to the people. Should this rot continue the ANC will be damaged beyond repair".

Meanwhile, it was reported that President Jacob Zuma was taken aback by the campaign but has declined to debate the merits or demerits of the campaign in the media. He reportedly indicated that at some point he may engage with Kasrils personally.

While the debate to deliberately spoil ballots in this year's election has taken on an emotional tone among South Africans, and most notably those that fought for democracy, political analysts pointed out that spoiled ballots merely shrink the voter pool and may not have the desired outcome.

During the previous election, in 2009, just over 200,000 of the 17-million voters spoiled their ballot, which translates to just over 1 percent of the vote.

Spoiled ballots are due to voter mistakes or others purposefully spoiling their ballots as an act of defiance.

But what does a spoiled ballot look like, or rather, what does the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) consider to be a spoiled ballot?

Terry Tselane, the vice chairperson of the IEC explained: "Essentially a spoiled ballot is when it is not clear what the preference of the voter is. Perhaps there is a line going across more than two political parties or there is something else written on the ballot paper. It could also be that the ballot paper is unmarked."