Pretoria - Voter registration ahead of the 2019 general election is in full swing at polling stations around the country, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said on Saturday.

Reports from the IEC’s provincial operations confirmed the opening of about 99 percent of the 22,925 voting stations on time and a steady stream of eligible voters visiting stations to register and update their registration details, the IEC said in a statement.

In all but a small minority of voting stations, voter registration was reported to be proceeding smoothly and efficiently at 11 am on Saturday.

Problems experienced by registration officials at the start of the final registration weekend included dealing with inclement weather conditions in a number of provinces which had affected access to voting stations, especially due to flooding or impassable roads.

In particular, voting stations located in tents were affected by strong winds and heavy rain in the Eastern Free State, parts of Gauteng, the coastal regions of KwaZulu-Natal, and parts of Limpopo, the IEC said.

In most cases the affected voting stations were reported operational by 11 am once tents had been re-pitched and access to voting stations restored with the help of disaster management teams and security agencies.

A second problem was the impact of sporadic community protests which affected the opening and operations of several voting stations around the country. Reports had been received of voting stations which were unable to open on time due to access to the station being prevented by protest action, including barricaded roads.

As at 11 am, about 140 voting stations (0.6 percent) around the country were not yet open due to community protests. Among the areas which reported community protests were: 

- Eastern Cape: Amahlati; Mbizana; Thabankulu;

- Free State: Bloemfontein (Khayelitsha);

- Gauteng: Tshwane (Mooiplaas; Pienaarspoort); Ekurhuleni (Kathlehong; Boksburg; Sebokeng); West Rand (Munsieville); Johannesburg (Lawley; Ivory Park);

- KwaZulu-Natal: Ulundi; uMsunduzi; Ndwedwe;

- Limpopo: Elias Motsoaledi; Polokwane; Ramamabolo; Giyani;

- Mpumalanga: Gert Sibande; Sekunda; Bushbuckridge;

- North West: Rustenburg;

- Northern Cape: Dikgatlhong; and

- Western Cape: Gugulethu

"In all affected areas the situation is being monitored and IEC officials are working closely with the state security agencies to open the voting stations as soon as possible and safe for both eligible voters and election officials.

"While the Electoral Commission appreciates the rights of South Africans to peacefully protest and raise issues of concern, it appeals to all communities to exercise this right in a way which does not deny the rights of other citizens to register and vote."

The IEC urged all South Africans to use the final opening of voting stations this weekend to register and update addresses for the upcoming national and provincial elections.

"Our contact centre is experiencing high call volumes which we are efficiently handling. So far, we received 2700 calls, 300 social media queries, and 200 electronic mail since [8 am] this morning [Saturday]. We remind those voters already registered to make use of CLICK, CHECK, and CONFIRM portal on our website to update addresses or furnish them if none is on record," the IEC said.

African News Agency (ANA)