Service delivery protests disrupt voter registration drive
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Johannesburg – Dozens of voter registration stations across the country could not open on time due to service delivery protests.
The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) on Saturday announced that over 98% of the 23 151 voting stations opened on time, while 53 others could not.
IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said: “A total of 53 voting stations did not open on time. This was in the main due to service delivery protests by communities seeking to use the registration weekend to draw attention to their issues”.
According to Mamabolo, in almost all these instances of service delivery protests, the commission, working with police and local leaders, was able to resolve the problems or were in the process of resoling them.
He said the issues troubling these communities related to one or another service delivery problem.
Mamabolo also expressed his happiness with the IEC’s new, exciting technology, which he said was working well despite some teething problems experienced in the first two hours of Saturday morning.
”We picked up a technical problem in the voter management devices, which are being used on a large scale this weekend. The commission took a conscious decision to bring down the online system in order to resolve a mapping functionality problem,” he explained.
Mamabolo said it was important to note that the downtime did not stop the registration process.
”It has always been part of the plan that should we experience any online difficulties then we will be in a position to operate off-line,” he said.
In the first few hours of Saturday, over 104 000 South Africans visited their voting stations to register, re-register or to update their registration details such as addresses, according to Mamabolo.
In addition, over 230 000 who have used the online registration system since its launch in July.
Another 10 000 had registered online before midday on Saturday.
Mamabolo said the commission was impressed by the turnout, and urged South Africans to continue to go out in their numbers to register.
”We are making a special plea to first time voters to take this patriotic step to make their mark in history by participating in the forthcoming elections,” he added.
Mamabolo appealed to voters to also use the online registration system, which is open beyond the 5pm closing time of voting stations and will only close at midnight on Monday.