The chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Hlomani Chauke, has urged South Africans to take advantage of the last registration weekend provided by the Electoral Commission to register to vote in the upcoming national and provincial elections.
The call has been emphasised especially for young South Africans, who have historically shown apathy to voting, to register to ensure participation in the elections.
“The right to vote is enshrined in the Constitution and many people have fought, even died, to ensure that all South Africans participate in the democratic project of the country. This reason alone should be encouragement enough for people to vote,” Chauke said.
The committee emphasised that for democracy to work, it requires regular and full participation by all eligible voters.
“This is a primary civic duty that all adults must perform and is central in strengthening the constitutional order of the country,” Chauke said.
The voter registration weekend also provides the electorate and the IEC the opportunity to update the voters’ roll and bring it in line with the Constitutional Court ruling in relation to addresses on the roll.
“We therefore call for those voters that are already registered to update their addresses on the roll,” he said.
In line with this, the committee urges the Department of Home Affairs to consider extending operating hours for this coming weekend to enable people to pick up their identity documents that will enable them to register to vote.
The committee will within the next term engage the IEC on its preparedness to deliver credible elections, as expected.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says that it is ready to receive millions of South Africans who will at the weekend take to voting stations to register or confirm their details as the commission prepares for the national and provincial elections later this year.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said 22 925 voting stations will be open for registration at the weekend between 8am and 5pm on both days.
Mamabolo said this weekend’s voter registration will allow new voters to register and all existing voters to update and check their address and registration details.
“Each voting station will be stocked with registration forms in all official languages, maps of the ward to help locate voters’ place of residence and copies of the current voters’ roll, along with various stationery items and sign boards.
“Each voting station will also be equipped with a ‘zip zip’ ID scanner, which contains the voters’ roll and helps to link each visitor to the voting station and ward,” he said.
Each voting station will be staffed with about three registration officials, who will assist voters swiftly and efficiently.
“There are currently 26 million registered voters on the national common voters’ roll and the Electoral Commission hopes at least one million additional voters will be added during this weekend’s registration drive,” he said.
Mamabolo and IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini reiterated that the youth was the biggest section of society that needed to be urged to go to voting stations at the weekend.
Despite this weekend being the last general voter registration drive, the IEC will next month have special registration campaigns at tertiary education campuses to help boost youth registrations.
“The Electoral Commission is hopeful that voters, who are already registered, will use the opportunity to visit their voting station to check their registration and specifically to confirm and update their address details,” said Mamabolo.
Registered voters can also do this online via the ‘Click, Check and Confirm’ facility on the Electoral Commission’s website at www.elections.org.za.
Since this service was introduced in October 2016, more than 125 000 voters have used the service to confirm or update their address details. The current registration drive ahead of this year’s national and provincial elections has seen a surge in the use of this portal, with more than 2 000 users per day updating their addresses on the site over the past week.
“After this weekend, registered voters can update their details online and unregistered voters can visit their local IEC office during office hours to register – but only for a short period,” Mamabolo said.
Once the elections are proclaimed by the President and Premiers, the voters’ roll for this year’s elections will be sealed and no further registrations will be allowed.
Mamabolo said voter registration has been taking place at correctional facilities around the country over the past two days, allowing offenders the opportunity to exercise their vote. South Africans living abroad will register at South African foreign missions between 1 and 4 February 2019.
Meanwhile, the IEC has welcomed the signing into law of the Political Party Funding Act by President Cyril Ramaphosa this week.
The commission said it is working on implementing the relevant sections of the act from 1 April. – SAnews.gov.za