Picture: @MyANC/Twitter

Johannesburg - The African National Congress is encouraged by the turnout of South Africans registering this weekend to vote in the 2019 general election and check their addresses, the party said on Saturday.

"We commend those who braved the elements to visit registration stations. This reflects the commitment of South Africans to strengthening our democracy and to work together to grow South Africa," the ANC said in a statement.

The vast majority of the 22 935 registration stations opened on time and functioned smoothly. The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) should be commended for the professionalism with which it continued to discharge its mandate.

However, the ANC noted that a few stations experienced "logistical problems" and did not function as expected. These stations served the poorest citizens in the country. The ANC was particularly concerned at reports of potential voters turned away because they did not have written proof of address, which was not a requirement. The ANC had urged the IEC to attend to these matters urgently.

"Our election structures reported a number of stations that were prevented from opening or functioning smoothly by protests, intimidation, and even direct attacks. We call upon all citizens to exercise their constitutional right to protest peacefully and unarmed. No one, no matter how dissatisfied, should interfere with the rights of other citizens, in particular, the fundamental democratic right to vote."

The ANC structures had engaged communities, associations, and protesters and had urged all three spheres of government to attend to legitimate service delivery grievances raised by citizens.

About 130 such incidents had been reported, representing less than 0.56 percent of the 22,935 stations. "We are confident that all hands are on deck to engage and resolve the challenges so that citizens can register and check their addresses without any interruptions. We are encouraged that South Africans, especially young people and first-time voters are heeding the call to take the future into their own hands.  

"We call upon all citizens who have not yet registered to vote to do so. All citizens returning from work, weddings, funerals, shopping, and sporting events can still visit registration stations until [5 pm on Saturday]."

African News Agency (ANA)