The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) in KwaZulu-Natal said all 4 973 stations will be open for this weekend’s voter registration drive, with security intelligence revealing no high risk areas in the province.
The IEC said it was hoping to get a number of young people to register. Voting stations will be opened on Saturday and on Sunday.
Provincial electoral officer Ntombifuthi Masinga said there were almost 5.4 million registered voters on the provincial voters roll and potential voters would be able to register, re-register, verify their voter registration status and check or update their address details.
Masinga said police and the security cluster had carried out a threat analysis in the province due to inter- and intrapolitical violence.
“We work with the security establishment through the provincial joint operational and intelligence structure and the elections priority committee where we engage the various arms of the security cluster and they categorise voting areas as low-, medium- and high-profile, depending on the level of tensions that have been observed going into a major event like the elections.
“Going into the voter registration weekend, we do not have any voting stations that have been categorised as high-profile but we do expect that the situation might change going into elections because there is a tendency for people with grievances around service delivery to use elections to make themselves heard.”
Masinga said the multi-party political intervention committee, made up of leaders of political parties at district, provincial and national level, was the mechanism used by the IEC for political parties to intervene in political challenges.
She said more than 1 million registered voters, or 19%, were between the ages of 18 and 29 and the IEC had been working with tertiary institutions, including all universities and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges throughout the province, on an activation campaign to get as many as possible to vote.
Masinga said the committee had also partnered with the Department of Basic Education, state and civil society organisations to avail platforms to conduct voter education and registration for young voters.
She said they had taken note of recent CSIR research conducted on behalf of the IEC, which showed high levels of apathy, particularly among younger voters.
“The research showed that young people, once registered, become regular voters. The challenge for us is with unorganised young voters who are not at school or in tertiary institutions.
“We are hoping that during the voter registration weekend, we can get young people registered in large numbers.”
The IEC said it had recruited and trained 14 914 staff to administer registration of voters at voting stations.
Masinga said prior to the confirmation of staff, applicants were assessed against set criteria and party liaison committees were afforded an opportunity to raise objections of those who did not meet the criteria.
She said objections were raised in the province, in the Maphumulo and Ray Nkonyeni municipalities.
“Two of the objections were upheld and one was rejected.”
Masinga said they were satisfied with the electoral officers who had passed the political party test, had no criminal records and had also passed the IEC’s own internal test which required a pass mark of 80%.