Kimberley – There was a party atmosphere at the big white tent in the middle of the impoverished Greenpoint informal settlement in Kimberley.
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'Umshini Wami' – made famous by President Jacob Zuma – blared from the speakers of a car parked next to it. Nearby, a man with a megaphone called on people to come to the tent in their numbers.
Many came. Outside the white tent, men and women wearing red, blue and yellow stopped them, taking down their details and showing them inside the tent. It took about 5 minutes before they exited again.
Representatives from the EFF, ANC and the DA laughed and talked to each other as they assisted with voter registration and captured details for their parties.
The EFF representative sometimes assisted the DA and ANC officials as they went about their business. “We'll help each other now to get more people to vote and we'll fight about who they vote for next time,” the EFF representative said.
But they were worried. It was halfway through the first day and they've seen very few first time voters coming to register. “Less than 10 have come so far. We're hoping they'll come after work or when they come back from town (shopping).”
One of the people who exited the tent was Agos Kwes. At 51, he has voted in all the elections since 1994. And he will vote in this year's too. “I came to check if I'm still on the map,” he said, chuckling. “You never know what could've happened, so it's better to check.”
First time voters elusive
Anna Monta was close on his heels. “It's important to register and to vote. There are a lot of things that are wrong. You have to vote to fix it,” she says.
Across the Northern Cape, schools, clinics, Salvation Army offices and other private buildings were turned into voter registration centres.
Things ran smoothly at most of them. Supervisors gave the thumbs up – indicating that everything was running smoothly. Most of them did not have authority to speak to the media.
At the first eight registration centres in Kimberley visited by News24, first time voters were elusive. Less than 10 had registered at each of them. One was finally found at Roodepan.
Kayla Malgas said pure pressure brought her to finally register at age 24. “I just feel it's time to vote. All my friends have voted, and it was only me (who hasn’t), so I felt that it's time."
Her friend Natasha Olyn, 24, says she's looking forward to making her mark for the second time. “It was nice voting in 2014. After voting I felt like an adult. I think it's important to vote.
"That's why I forced my friend, Kayla, to come and register. I have a child and I vote so that things can change for the better. Maybe I can get a job in future. Maybe.”
Politicians were out in their numbers in the province, looking to get eligible people to register to vote. Politicians spread across the province told News24 that everything was going smoothly and they hoped to register at least 10 percent new voters.
There has been one incident in the province so far, with residents of Pampierstad forcing the closure of three registration centres. They were protesting about area being moved to the North West province from the Northern Cape.
“Registration around the province is running smoothly. Things are fairly stable around the province,” IEC Northern Cape head, Bonolo Modise, said.
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