First time voters speak out on elections

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Statistics by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) indicate that more young South Africans are starting to be patriotic and have come to realise the importance of participating in elections.

This could imply that youngsters are starting to understand their democratic rights and are banking on those rights to determine the future of their country.

More Matshediso spoke to some of the first time voters about their understanding of democratic governance and service delivery, and playing their part in the elections.

Sisipho Luyanda Stuurman, 19, said her hope is that one day South Africa will be an even better country than it is today. This is what motivated her to register to vote for the upcoming local government elections.

“It is important to vote because if you vote, you will be involved in the development of your country and voicing your choices,” said Stuurman from King William’s Town, in the Eastern Cape.

Stuurman said services delivered in Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality in her home town are efficient in most areas, however she felt service delivery in the country needed improvement.

“South Africa's service delivery needs to be worked on because people with disadvantaged backgrounds are supposed to be taken care of, and not only be thought of once elections are around the corner,” said Stuurman, who is studying towards a qualification in Tourism and Events Management at the Central University of Technology.

Another first time voter who believes everyone’s vote is important, Magauta Ntsoeu, of Matjhabeng Local Municipality in Welkom in the Free State, said those who proclaim to be proudly South Africans should vote.

“Voting is a way to speak your mind and let your voice be heard. I am going to vote so that I effect change. That's what motivated me to register,” she said.

She said the municipality in her area provides efficient services. “I am happy with the service rendered to me and fellow residents,” said Ntsoeu.

She said South African government is trying all means to satisfy citizens in many ways.

“Spending money on education and providing jobs for those who are unemployed, as well as improving infrastructure… I think our government is playing an important role in our lives,” she said.

When the IEC started to raise awareness for eligible voters to register and update their details for this year’s Local Government elections, it targeted about one million first time voters, which sounded a bit ambitious to achieve.

But it was intriguing to realise that the number of first time voters who registered to vote during the two registration weekends in March and April went above a million, with an additional 384 000 plus of them now on the roll.

The commission released statistics on voter’s roll just after the final voter registration weekend, which showed that a total of 1 384 254 new voters were added to the voters’ roll over the two weekends.

This, at the time, brought the total number of voters to 26 296 601 million which made up approximately 77 percent of the eligible voting population.

New registrations made more than 20 percent of the eight million voting population of the country, and nearly 80 percent of first-time registering voters aged under 30 years old.

Also, noteworthy, is that a total of more than 6.6 million voters visited their voting station over the two registration weekends, which is almost two and a half times more activity than in the two registration weekends for the 2011 Municipal Elections.

But because registration still continued until towards the end of May--after the two registration weekends-- the total number of registered voters rose above  26 300 000, which is an increase from 25.6 million registered voters that existed before opening 2016 registrations. -