IEC voting centre at the Sharicrest Primary School in Eldorado Park. File Picture: Chris Collingridge
IEC voting centre at the Sharicrest Primary School in Eldorado Park. File Picture: Chris Collingridge

KZN political parties raise concerns over low youth turn-out at voting stations

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Sep 20, 2021

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DURBAN - PROBLEMS with the online registration system and the poor turn-out of youth at voting stations were among the concerns raised by different political parties in KwaZulu-Natal.

Yesterday and on Saturday, the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) held its final voter registration weekend for the November 1 local government elections.

Political parties visited various voting stations across the province to encourage voters to register and to monitor the registration proceedings.

The DA in KZN said that in many parts of Durban, the system was an issue with some voting stations not having manual capturing forms.

“The first day was not a good day, however, the second day was far better with the system working. In many places I’ve been to, there was a very slow movement of people to the voting stations,” said DA leader in KZN, Francois Rodgers.

Rodgers said the youth turn-out at voting stations was disappointing, considering the unemployment rate among youth.

“It is of concern that the youth are not interested in voting. Young people need to understand that they need to play a part in a democratic process. The majority of our youth are unemployed, so it’s in their best interest that they take charge about the future and also about leadership in their communities,” he said.

EFF KZN leader Vusi Khoza said even though there was a poor turn-out of the youth, the registration processes had proceeded well in many areas they had visited in the province.

Khoza said they were expecting a huge turn-out of first-time voters, however, it wasn’t the case in many areas.

“What was disappointing a bit was just a dysfunction of the system (online portal for registration) in many areas.

You’ll find people queueing while the system is offline and that was uncalled for. However, all in all, we are pleased.”

IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa also agreed that the turn-out at some stations was small. “The turn-out was not in big numbers but it was impressive to see people coming to register or check their names on the voters roll.”

Hlabisa said that some people used the online platform to register or check their details.

The IFP was happy that no serious incidents of violence were reported across the province, he said.

The IEC in KZN said over 144 000 people showed up at 4 940 voting stations across KZN on Saturday.

Of those, over 35 000 were new registrations, 53 000 people changed their address, and over 55 000 people just came in to confirm their details on the voters roll, said the IEC in KZN.

Ntombifuthi Masinga, acting IEC provincial electoral officer, said as the commission, they were impressed with young people between the ages of 18 and 21 who showed up at the voting stations.

“There was also a group of young people aged between 16 and 18 that showed up.

“It was impressive to see that because they are allowed to come and register. However, they will only be allowed to vote once they are 18.”

Further details about day two will be provided today, she said.

According to data released by the commission nationally, just after 3pm yesterday, 29 305 voters were registered early yesterday with the use of the new Voter Management Devices.

It said this was in addition to the 598 000 who were registered by the close of business on day one.

It further said that only nine of the 23 151 registration stations did not open yesterday due to service delivery protests.

“The registration weekend has also seen heightened use of the online portal for registration. So far, 39 519 voters have registered for the elections using the portal, which remains open until midnight tomorrow (today). We encourage South Africans to continue making use of this facility,” said the commission.

The commission also announced that applications for special votes will open today and urged South Africans who wish to apply for a special vote to apply online or at the Municipal Electoral Office.

THE MERCURY

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