Your chance to register

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pretoria - If you are one of the millions of South Africans who have not yet registered to vote, today and Sunday is your chance to go to your nearest voting station to sign yourself up for one of the most important building blocks of democracy.

Voting stations countrywide will be open from 8am to 5pm on both days for new registrations, and to give those who have moved since the last elections a chance to amend their details on the voters' roll.

Take along your green-bar coded ID and head down to your voting station to play your part in keeping the wheels of democracy turning in South Africa. If you do not know where your voting station is, follow this link http://www.buanews.gov.za/elections_index.html to find it and other information about the elections and voting in general.

A total of 20 867 voting stations will be open throughout the country and there is one near you.

The IEC is hoping to add over 1.5 million more voters onto the national voters' roll for the upcoming local government elections. There are currently just over 22 million South Africans on the voters' roll, and numbers indicate that the lag is in the youth.

Young people between the ages of 18 and 19 are estimated to make up 2.1 million of the population. However, only 238 500 of them are registered.

"We strongly encourage young people to register to vote over (this) weekend .... When the time comes, they should vote during the local government elections and further strengthen our democracy," said National Youth Development Agency chair, Andile Lungisa.

The call for South Africans to exercise their democratic right to vote has come from high places - Cabinet, the IEC, provinces and political parties. The onus is now on each eligible South African to go register so they can vote for the leaders they want to represent them.

Provincial leadership has called on citizens to go out in their numbers to vote.

"What is more exciting about this year's local elections is that they come in a year that we will also be commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Soweto uprisings," said Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

"It is therefore fitting that our youth go out there and exercise one of the fundamental rights of our freedom. Those who gallantly fought and even died for our freedom should not be let down by any actions that will undermine the sacrifices they made."

The North West said it was ready. "We are confident with the logistical arrangements made by the IEC for this voter registration weekend and we hope that everything goes accordingly as planned," said North West MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Paul Sebego.

Mpumalanga has also called on all South Africans to visit their voting stations to verify their details.

"It is very important that everyone visits their voting district to ensure that their names appear on the voters' roll, as only voters registered in the same voting district will be allowed to vote.

"The reason being that in municipal elections, people will be voting for their ward councillors and therefore each voter must vote in his or her ward," said spokesperson for the Mpumalanga IEC, Sibusiso Nkosi.

Due to the heavy rains that have pummelled parts of South Africa, Limpopo is now facing an additional challenge of getting mobile voter registration equipment to areas that have been cut off from most of civilisation.

Provincial electoral officer, Nkaro Mateta, said: "We have challenges in two of our municipalities due to the weather patterns. In particular, Tubatse ... with two stations, Ga-Komane and Makobote, as well as Mamogolo in Lepelle-Nkumpi."

Already, there are pleas for another voter registration weekend. With rains still predicted to continue, this might prevent some from braving cold, damp weather to go register.

The IEC has not indicated whether there would be another voter registration weekend, as this will depend on the outcome of this weekend.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Sicelo Shiceka, will release the actual date for the local government elections, which will be held anytime between 2 March and 30 May.

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