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Fri May 27 00:28:26 CAT 2016

Political parties criss-cross country for voter registration

Genevieve Quintal | 06 March, 2016 16:56

Image by: Reuben Goldberg

Political parties have spent the weekend criss-crossing the country trying to encourage citizens to register to vote in this year's local government elections.

The ANC on Sunday took its voter registration campaign into the heart of rural KwaZulu-Natal.

Treasurer general Zweli Mkhize, who was also the former premier, toured villages in the province's central highland.

Mkhize was welcomed in the district of Emaswazini near Taylor's Halt amidst much fanfare. 

Speaking to News24 ahead of his address, Mkhize said that they were on the campaign trail in an effort to "mobilise the young".

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane jetted off to Nelson Mandela Bay, an ANC stronghold, on Sunday to speak to prospective voters.

Speaking at the Richmond Hill voter registration station, Maimane said the ANC was undermining efforts of creating a reconciled South Africa by fabricating lies and accusing the DA of being a white party.

"Look around you. These are South Africans first and foremost. They are South Africans from all walks of life," he said.

"The ANC's message that this party is white and that party is black is their effort to undermine democracy. We are not in the business of building a party for any particular race, we are in the business of building a party for all South Africans."

Maimane was accompanied by Nelson Mandela Bay mayoral candidate Athol Trollip.

Central to this year's local government elections will be the battle for the country's major metros. The DA and the Economic Freedom Fighters have vowed to take control of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay from the ANC.

DA Johannesburg mayoral candidate Herman Mashaba was at the Sandton Fire Station on Sunday checking his registration details.

The Black Like Me founder said he had spent the weekend visiting voting stations around the city and speaking to citizens.

"Honestly, people of this country are ready to make a change," he told News24.

"This is going to be another game changer and I think we as the DA are ready for the challenge."

In Mamre, in the Western Cape, where DA Cape Town mayoral candidate Patricia de Lille was making her rounds on Sunday, party agents sang "Zuma out, Mmusi in, we are ready for 2016".

De Lille went from door to door in the town, speaking to potential voters.

News24 caught up with some first time voters on Sunday.

Marilene Els who registered to vote for the first time in Bloemfontein said she was happy that she would finally be able to make a difference through the ballot box.

"Everyone needs to vote because we all have voices and we all live in this country and we just need to make a difference," she said.

"A lot has been happening in this country and sometimes you are literally scared to get out of your own house, so it is good to vote."

Mpho, also a first-time voter who is a Bachelor of Commerce student at Damelin College in Johannesburg, said he would be voting for jobs.

The young man did not say who he would be voting for, but he believed the unemployment rate needed to come down.

"That's why I'm voting for jobs.

"I think I'm kind of giving you a hint of what I'm going to vote for. It's very important for everyone to vote for change," he said.

Things were not running smoothly at every voter registration station on Sunday, however. In Mpumalanga, two EFF party agents were hospitalised following a mob attack during voter registration.

The party's provincial command team member Tsepo Mnisi said the agents were travelling to a registration station in Ward 23 in the Nkomazi region when they were attacked.

"One member is in a critical condition at Tonga Hospital after he was hit with a big stone on his chest and lost consciousness at the scene. The other was pushed against a car with his head and he sustained a bleeding nose," said Mnisi on Sunday.

Mnisi said the incident happened while he and another team member, Maniki Dibakwane, were travelling in a vehicle to check registrations in Ward 23.

The EFF said it would lay criminal charges.

In Pampierstad in the Northern Cape, registration stations which were forced to close because of community protests in the area were reopened on Sunday.

Three voter stations were closed on Saturday.

The protests was not related to the registration process, but had to do with demarcation issues. Residents stormed the three tents, used as temporary registration centres, destroying them, equipment and documents, including the voters' roll.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said all voting stations were open on Sunday, with fewer than 20 voting stations out of the 22 569 still experiencing glitches, which were being attended to.

"Many of the voting stations which were closed yesterday due to community activism were able to open today thanks to the intervention of various stakeholders including the security forces, community leaders and civil society groups which assisted the Electoral Commission," spokesperson Kate Bapela said in a statement.

"The Electoral Commission is continuing to engage with stakeholders in those areas where some voting stations were still experiencing challenges."

The areas were:

- Vuwani in Limpopo where eight voting stations out of 45 were still closed on Sunday;

- Voting stations in Ward 60 in Ethikwini and two voting stations in Weenen in Kwazulu-Natal;

- Two voting stations in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape;

- Four voting stations in Thabankulu in the Eastern Cape and;

- Two in GaMothibi in the North West.

The IEC said it was estimated that around a million people visited voting stations on Saturday to register, update their registration details or re-register at new and changed voting districts. 

Source: News24

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