Why campaigning the weekend before election day is allowed for the first time

With the fast changing digital landscape, the Independent Electoral Commission has had to make some changes to its interpretations of regulations.

Action SA president Herman Mashaba addressing the community of Houghton Estate on Saturday evening. Picture: John Moodey/Twitter/@JohnMoodeyGP

JOHANNESBURG - Various political parties are planning a last-minute push over the weekend, drumming up support ahead of Monday's election.

In previous years, campaigning was not allowed in the period directly before the election. But the social media age has forced the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to look at the law differently.

Political parties will this year for the first time be free to campaign up to the midnight before voting day after the IEC has changed the way it interprets electoral regulations.

Before 1994 the electoral law was clear about a so-called cooling off period before elections day, and this tradition continued in the early years of democracy. But the advent of social media made it difficult to contain campaigning in the days before an election.

Earlier this week, the IEC issued guidelines to parties to clarify the issue.

According to these guidelines, elections day is only on Monday, so this weekend's special voting days are excluded from this interpretation.

The IEC acknowledges it's not preferable for political campaigns to take place on these two days, but there's no legal basis to enforce this. The law is explicit, however, that radio and television adverts are not allowed on these two days.