7 February 2014
South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will open its 22 263 voting stations this weekend for a final registration drive which it hopes will attract 1.1-million new voters.
The voter registration, taking place throughout the country on Saturday and Sunday, will be the final opportunity for new voters to register and for registered voters to change their voting station ahead of the country’s 2014 national and provincial elections.
President Jacob Zuma is expected to announce the election date shortly after the registration weekend.
Speaking to journalists in Pretoria on Thursday, IEC Chairperson Pansy Tlakula appealed to South Africans to use the weekend to register and verify their details. “Our country needs you – the future of our democracy is in your hands,” she said, adding that it was all systems go from the IEC’s side.
At present, 24 112 414 voters, representing 76.7% of eligible voters, are registered, but the IEC is hoping for 1-million more to take overall registration level to 80%.
The Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape provinces have the highest registration percentages at 80% and over, while Gauteng has the lowest with 72.1%.
Just over 1-million new voters were added to the voters’ roll after the last registration weekend in November 2013, while 1.5-million voters updated their registration details.
For citizens living abroad, Tlakula encouraged them to ensure that their applications are received by close of business this Friday. To date, she said, they have received 3 703 applications for registrations from about 70 missions. “We are still receiving more each day and processing these. The highest number of applications has come from London, Dubai and Cuba.”
She added that a three-day registration drive at the country’s 235 correctional services, started on Wednesday, was also going smoothly.
Tlakula said forecasts of poor weather this weekend were a possible threat to the registration turnout, but said they had put plans in place to help affected voting stations.
Regarding communities in which there have been violent protests over service delivery in recent days, Tlakula said the IEC had partnered and engaged with the security forces, political parties and community leaders to ensure that all South Africans would be able to exercise their right to vote.
“I can assure that all our voting stations will be open from 8am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday for people to register.”
To attract voters and reach the set target, the IEC had they launched a communication campaign using celebrities to share their reasons why the youth should register and vote.
“Further, we have collaborated with some radio stations through the country who will be broadcasting outside some voting stations on Saturday and Sunday.”
Members of the public can check whether they are registered to vote by sending an SMS with their ID number to 32810, and can check their voter registration details by visiting www.elections.org.za or calling 0800 11 800 toll-free from a landline.