Home Affairs, South Africa readies for voter registration

29 February 2016

Voter registration running this weekend of 5 and 6 March is a chance for South Africans to confirm with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) that they are listed on the voters’ role for the 2016 local election in the wards where they live.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, chairing the Governance and Administration Cluster briefing in Cape Town on 25 February, urged all eligible South Africans to register over the weekend. It was also an opportunity to make sure their identification documents were valid and up to date.

He reiterated that South Africans must have these documents to register and to vote. Citizens who do not have ID documents should apply now at their nearest Home Affairs office; those who have already applied for ID documents should them pick up from Home Affairs as soon as possible so they can register this weekend.

Gigaba also highlighted the differences between local government and national elections, saying that “unlike national elections, the local government elections require that you register in the ward in which you reside”. Young and first-time voters should ensure their details and documentation were all up to date with Home Affairs in order to register to vote and, more importantly, he urged them to vote. The date of the election must still be confirmed by the government.

“It is by voting that citizens select the public representatives that best serve their interests,” said the minister.

This election will be South Africa’s fourth democratic local government election. Again, it is a chance to select local leaders from the various parties competing in the poll, who voters think can best serve their communities.

Gigaba drew attention to the importance of local elections in the South African democratic process, saying that “local government is a critical sphere of government responsible for delivering services which are basic human rights and are essential components of the right to dignity enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights”.

The Department of Home Affairs, as the official registrar of the people of South Africa, plays a fundamental role in supporting the electoral processes by making sure the logistics of ID document issue is done in a timely and correct manner.

“Home Affairs will be actively involved in ensuring the success of the voter registration weekend on 5 and 6 March 2016, as declared by the IEC,” Gigaba said.

Collecting outstanding IDs

According to Home Affairs, there are more than 200 000 uncollected IDs at its offices around the country.

Gigaba said the department would temporarily suspend its policy of destroying uncollected IDs and smart ID cards after a certain period during the voter registration and local government election season, insuring that all applicants got a chance to pick up their outstanding IDs.

“Our policy states that documents that are uncollected for a period of six months should be returned to head office, where they are kept for a further six months. Should the documents not be collected after 12 months, they are destroyed,” he said. This process would be held off until the end of the election week.

All Home Affairs offices will be open from 8am to 5pm on 5 and 6 March to help those who do not have IDs to apply for them. “Officials are ready to deliver services to those who require IDs and temporary identification certificates,” the minister added.

Temporary identification certificates will be made available at these offices during the registration weekend, and together with the green bar-coded IDs and smart ID cards, the temporary certificates will be accepted as legal forms of identity for voter registration and voting.

eChannel payment system

His department had upgraded its Live Capture System over the weekend of 26 and 28 February to introduce the eChannel EFT payment function at all of its 142 offices and selected banks, Gigaba added.

This is in line with the department’s pilot project, launched in 2015, with First National Bank, Standard Bank and Nedbank that enables South Africans to apply for identity documents at branches of these banks.

A memorandum of understanding has been signed with Absa, making the project available at all four of South Africa’s big four banks. Each bank partner has three eChannel sites – 12 sites in total – that will be piloting the project.

Source: South African Government News Agency