22 570 registration venues were opened in the first municipal elections registration leg (5-6 of March) and more than one million eligible voters were registered.
Electoral Commission has decided to give millions of South Africans who missed out on the first municipal elections registration weekend last chance. The next registration weekend (9 and 10th of April) will allow those who have never before registered as voters to register, those who need to re-register because they have changed voting stations as a result of moving place, or people who have been affected by changes in ward or voting districts.
According to Statistics South Africa 24.9 million people on the voters’ roll and approximately 9.1 million eligible voters are not registered – more than 80% of these below the age of 35.
The voters’ roll as of 31 January 2016 showed that 24 964 498 voters were registered. Based on latest voting age population (VAP) estimates provided by Statistics South Africa, there are currently approximately 34 million South African citizens of voting age, placing the current registration level at 73 percent of all eligible voters.
Of the approximately 9 million eligible voters not currently registered:
• Approximately 1.5 million are 18 – 19 years old (16 percent)
• Approximately 4.3 million are 20 – 29 years old (46 percent)
• Approximately 1.6 million are 30 – 39 years old (18 percent)
• Approximately 0.8 million are 40 – 49 years old (9 percent)
• Approximately 1 million are over 50 years old (11 percent)
Activate Leadership member, Modi Sithembiso Nkambule is one of the IEC’s station managers. Nkambule explain the political physio-social voting value for all South African more especially young people. “Contrary to popular, voting isn’t merely an opportunity to voice using our power to chop and change new leaders or keep the same leaders that we currently have. Voting is one of very few basic tools that legible South African uses build this country. That for me is the value of elections and good enough reason for everyone to for everyone to register to vote.”
The Mpumalanga based activator stressed the importance of registering and voting. “I know most people have lost interest in elections more especially local elections purely because they see voting as political thing only. That believe of behavior is a biggest threat to our country’s future because most of those people who take elections for granted don’t realize that actually voting or not voting is a huge step of either moving the country forward or destroying it completely.”
Free State based political science scholar and social change driver Tshepo Future Mabuya said “Even though local government may not have power to make laws and highest decisions that can be binding at a national level, it is however through local government that a community gets to be developed. This is where democracy gets to be fully unfolded. It is at local government level that the devolution of all acts, laws is realized and that key decisions are implemented. Registering to vote is a sign of claiming people power that enables young people to lead the national conversation on governance and accountability as well as decision making. Registering and voting in the upcoming local elections is one first steps we can do to define our generation obligation.”
Governance scholar and social change driver, Senzo Hlophe stressed the important role of local government (which is to ensure services that impact the daily lives of citizens in their areas, including water, electricity and sanitation) and reasons why voting in the upcoming local is very important for all South Africans more especially youth. “Local government elections are equally important if not more than national elections, for two reasons. One, local government are to provide democratic and accountable government for local communities, ensure provision of services in a sustainable manner, promote social and economic development, promote safe and healthy environment etc. Two, Base on that reason alone, you definitely want to register and vote because you do not want the wrong leadership to be responsible for your beaches and amusement facilities, cemeteries and funeral parlors, local amenities, municipal roads (pot holes), street lighting, traffic and parking responsibilities. All of these affect you and you want to make sure the best men or women get the job. So get off your butts and do the right thing.” said Hlophe
On the other hand, Eastern Cape based activator and Qunu Youth Development co-founder Phikolomzi Habe said” For far too long the untouchable elite have suppressed youth’s views on issues of national importance. It was through elections that they got to be where they are and it is also through elections that they can be moved. So registering for elections and ultimately voting is very important for everyone more especially youth because elections are one of very few available tools to decide the future leaders we want as the youth.”
Renowned political analyst and former national Electoral Commission Information Analysis Department head, Steven Eli Friedman, said the upcoming elections’ value is unquantifiable “The country (South Africa) finds itself in a very volatile situation where any actions by citizens can be a good or extremely turning point. Now the really power of this country rests within its citizens more especially the youth. History tells us that most African countries started experiencing political, social and economic crises. Now looking at what is going on in South Africa right now, I think most all South Africans must start to ask themselves what else they can do to deepen South African democracy. So words can ever explain the value of these upcoming municipal elections
IEC has also developed an online candidate nomination process which will allow candidates to apply via the internet. This is currently in testing and will be available in time for the candidate nomination process. Electoral Commission Spokesperson Kate Bapela said the online candidate nomination systems is one of the enabling innovations of the 2016 Municipal Elections that will allow political parties and independent candidates to upload their candidate nomination documents easily and correctly.
All voting stations will open from 8am to 5pm over the weekend of Saturday 9th and 10th of April for new voters to register and for existing voters to update and check their registration details.
Unlike national and provincial elections, voting in a municipal election is only allowed at the voting district in which you are registered to vote. Voters who do not know their voting stations can email IEC at email firstname.lastname@example.org or website www.elections.org.za. Alternatively communicate with IEC through their Twitter handle @IECSouthAfrica or Facebook IECSouthAfrica.
Those who do have access to internet can call IEC Call Centre
on 0800 11 8000 between 7am and 9pm weekdays or Dial *120*IEC# (*120*432#). Voters who are already registered can SMS their ID number to 32810 (cost R1) to receive confirmation of their voter registration details including the name of their voting station.
The date is not yet confirmed but in terms of the Constitution the election must be held between 18 May and 16 August 2016. Those who miss both registration dates can go and register at their municipal elections.