KwaZulu-Natal political parties have called for democracy to prevail and have urged unregistered voters to turn out in their numbers at the final voter registration weekend ahead of the national and provincial elections.
Voters will still be able to register online until the proclamation of the date of the elections by President Cyril Ramaphosa is gazetted.
For the first time, voters will be issued with three ballot papers instead of two – one to cast a vote for an independent candidate or party in a provincial legislature, another for the 200 regional seats to be contested by independent candidates and political parties, and another to cast a vote for the 200 compensatory seats for political parties.
ANC provincial spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said the registration process in November had been smooth and without major incidents and the expectation was that the registration on February 3 and 4 will be the same.
“The IEC has reported that voter registration has passed the 27 million mark for the first time and this is positive news. A high voter turnout is good news for the ANC,” Mndebele said.
IFP provincial Premier candidate Thami Ntuli said the party was hoping that registration would be conducted in a good spirit.
“It is in everyone’s interest that there is stability over the voter registration weekend and this is simply an opportunity to be eligible to vote on the election day. We have encouraged many people to register and we have seen people turning out in their numbers for by-elections and are hopeful this will carry through to the election day.”
EFF provincial leader Mongezi Twala said while there was always a concern about the volatility of KZN politics, they were hopeful that this weekend would be incident free.
“The November voter drive was conducted in a good spirit and there was not a single incident of political intolerance. We may differ in our ideas but we must coexist, be tolerant and allow for a harmonious relationship between all parties, and long may this continue,” said Twala.
DA provincial leader Francois Rodgers said voter registration was not a contestation and the party was hopeful there would be no intimidation.
“We have achieved 80% of our voter registration targets and are hoping to exceed these targets this weekend. We will do what we do best and may democracy prevail.”
IEC KZN Electoral Officer Ntombifuthi Masinga said police will deploy additional resources to voting stations deemed high risk, as the electoral body prepares for the final voter registration drive this weekend.
“If a voting station is categorised as high risk, there will be specific deployments and other members will be roving about throughout the day and visiting all voting stations.”
Masinga said their analysis was based on the November voter registration period when fewer than 20 voting stations out of the more than 4 900 in the province were determined to be high risk.
“Those are still categorised as high risk, but on the eve of voter registration we will get the final number from the security establishment.”
Masinga said intraparty political violence was more prevalent than interparty violence, describing this as a complicated situation to manage for the security establishment.
“While political killings have continued, there are no longer no-go areas in the province. There is now free access for various political parties in all parts of the province.
“When we have meetings with parties, there is hardly a report that states that a party was refused access, but we are expecting ahead of the elections to receive complaints about access to community halls, especially if a municipality is run by a certain party.”