Durban — South Africa’s two-day voter registration campaign started yesterday with people around the country lining up to ensure that they are able to vote in next year’s elections.
In Mariannhill, residents flocked to registration sites and Sthembiso Hlongwane, who has been an Electoral Commission (IEC) official for the past 20 years, said about 45% of eligible residents in the area had turned up.
He expected it to be even busier today (Sunday).
Andile Ngcongo, who handled the voters roll, said they saw about 50 people an hour since they opened at 8am.
“I would like to encourage people to register to vote because their vote is their voice. It is even more important to register for these elections because you will be voting for a party that will steer the nation,” said Ngcongo.
He said there would not be any issues like missing ballot papers or misconduct.
“If anyone has any doubts, I can assure them that the IEC is 200-percent ready for a free and fair election,” he said.
Zanele Msane, 33, from Thornwood in Mariannhill, said she was motivated to register to vote because she wanted to see change in her life and her neighbourhood.
Msane is unemployed and has not held a permanent job.
“It makes me sad to see other young people like me unemployed.
“I want to see any party that wins the elections taking the issue of unemployment seriously,” she said.
Another resident from Thornwood, Vusi Hlabisa, 37, said he voted for the same party ever since he was eligible to vote and wanted to change that next year.
“I work as a truck driver and I am unhappy with my working environment.
“I feel that there is so much progress that could happen in the logistics industry but our employers do not make any changes because they know that our government won’t hold them accountable.
“That is why I am here to ensure that I am registered to vote for change,” Hlabisa said.
Zama Zulu, 25, from Clermont, said that she was registering to vote because she wanted to see improvement in service delivery and find a job.
Ntombikayise Ntuli, 70, from Nagina said she had five grandchildren, an unemployed daughter and that her son was the only breadwinner.
“Life is difficult, that is why I’m here to register to vote so that my life can improve one day.
“I want to see a change in my life and see my grandchildren grow and become successful,” she said.
ANC regional secretary Sphesihle Zulu said that in the general Gizenga Mpanza region, like the rest of the country, they were focusing on first-time voters, particularly students and learners.
“The second focus is on professionals, unemployed graduates and farm dwellers.
“Our message is that people should register so that they can exercise their democratic right to vote.
“As the ANC we emphasise the point that even if citizens are still not sure who they are to vote for, it is important for them to register so that by the time they make up their minds, they do qualify as voters,” said Zulu.
Zulu said the ANC made a commitment to the people, through its various policies and manifestos, to end poverty and underdevelopment.
“If people don’t register and vote, they deprive themselves of an opportunity to have their voices heard,” he said.
Nozipho Phakathi from the EFF said that they were happy with the support from the residents.
“We set up our table outside the Dassenhoek hall because we wanted to be visible to people who are registering this weekend.
“We are happy with the reception from people.
“Some hoot at us as they are driving past and others talk to us to learn more about the party and where they can find us in Mariannhill,” said Phakathi.
The IEC announced that there would be 23 296 registration stations across the country.