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Voters' roll: GPS-linked 'identifiers' used for homes without formal addresses

2016-04-12 16:22
IEC voting station. (Elmarie Jack, News24)

Cape Town – The government has started assigning geo-located "identifiers" to homes in informal settlements in the embattled Tlokwe municipality in North West, MPs heard on Tuesday.

The Electoral Court ruled in February that by-elections scheduled for Tlokwe had to be postponed because of continued uncertainty regarding the validity of the voters' roll that did not have people’s addresses.

Four wards in Tlokwe were in urban areas and had addresses, while three had a "plethora of informal settlements" without formal addresses, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Director General Vusi Madonsela told a joint committee meeting.

The department was making a presentation to MPs on the country’s readiness for the August 3 local government elections.

In the informal areas, the department had asked Statistics SA to assign a unique number, called an "identifier", to every dwelling. That number was then linked to a resident’s name.

"We don’t call them addresses, because an address suggests that you have effectively formalised that home," Madonsela said.

Roll out plan to other provinces

These identifiers would be used for voter registration, and also for other government purposes.

"We also believe these identifiers will enable the IEC to determine whether the people who are registering to vote are in fact residents in the voting districts where they intend to cast their vote," Madonsela said.

The identifiers were geo-located, meaning they could be located via GPS.

There are plans to roll out the project to 15 wards in other provinces where by-elections were still to be held.

The Electoral Court's ruling followed a Constitutional Court judgment in November 2015 that the 2013 Tlokwe by-elections were not free and fair and that the voters' roll should include people's addresses, or a location allowing them to be placed in a voting district.

The IEC had approached the Constitutional Court to seek clarity on questions, including whether the lack of addresses would invalidate the roll.

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Read more on: local elections 2016

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