/ 5 February 2024

Showdown looms as voters register

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ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has defended the practice of cadre deployment.

The enthusiasm of South Africans to vote in the upcoming general elections continued over the weekend, with the voter’s roll exceeding the 27 million mark for the first time since 1994.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) deputy chief electoral officer, Masego Shiburi, said prospective voters did not only converge at their local voting stations but also utilised the IEC’s online voter registration portal.

“Today alone, the online voter registration portal recorded over 20 525 transactions. Of those, 7 234 were new registrations. The platform will remains available 24 hours as the online registration platform continues to yield a return on investments a day until the date of the election is proclaimed by the president. The online registration platform continues to yield a return on investments,” said Shiburi.

Potential voters who could not register over the weekend can still do so at their nearest IEC offices, with the registration cutoff date set for the day when the election date is proclaimed by President Cyril Ramaphosa — who is yet to make an announcement.

With over 350 registered political parties and scores of independent MP candidates to choose from, those who registered to vote during the registration weekend, which closed on Sunday night, are spoilt for choice.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the competition for voters between the four main political parties in the province – the ANC, IFP, DA and EFF – became wide open following the launch of the ANC splinter organisation, the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party late last year.

Ramaphosa, who denied that the MK party will negatively impact NC support in the elections, on Sunday visited various voter registration centres in Gauteng.

Unlike in previous elections, Ramaphosa said there appeared to be a lot of interest in the upcoming general elections, with the youth — which showed less interest in the past — registering in large numbers.

“The youth’s reluctance to vote is being washed away. Young people are coming forward wanting to register and to vote.”

IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa visited voter registration centres in Ndwedwe, north of Durban.

DA leader, John Steenhusen, who visited some voter registration stations in Howick, described the weekend as “encouraging”.

In the build-up to the elections, Steenhuisen said, the DA would be presenting to young people who will be voting for “the DA’s plan to assist them build a better future”.

When The Witness visited various voter registration centres across Pietermaritzburg on Sunday, most of the centres were a hive of activity.

Some prospective voters said they were voting for change, while others wanted to preserve the status quo.

Thobelani Mkhize, from ward 34 in Panorama, said that he hoped his vote would make a difference.

“The one thing that I believe we all want is an end to load-shedding. I study online and it has been very difficult keeping up with load-shedding and their forever changing schedules.

“It is also very difficult for me because when there is no electricity, we often don’t have network as well. It would also be great to finish school and get a job because right now I am studying and I don’t know if I will have a job after I am done with school.”

“I am hoping that the party that will win in these elections will prioritise creating more jobs for young people.

Sobantu-based Masithokoze Mbatha, another of the youth who will be voting for the first time, said he is looking forward to casting his vote.

“I am 18 years old and this will be my first-time voting. I am feeling a lot of pressure because my vote is going to count for something and I really don’t want to make a mistake. But all in all, I am looking forward to the experience,” said Mbatha.

While several people around Pietermaritzburg confirmed that they will be voting in the upcoming elections, others told The Witness that they were not planning to vote. Landile Khena, also from Sobantu, said she has lost faith in political parties.

This article first appeared in The Witness.