Premier and ANC chairperson in the Eastern Cape Oscar Mabuyane has called on young people to register to vote in order to ensure there is higher voter turnout at the local government elections on November 1.
Mabuyane said residents of the province, young and old, should use the opportunity given by the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) of registering on Saturday and Sunday to be eligible to vote.
He said that, in the past, low voter turnout in local government elections had been discouraging and this time the party wanted more people going out to vote. Voting stations across the country would be open from 8am until 5pm for people to register and ensure that their voting statuses are correct.
“We are pleading with young people, who have never voted, who have just turned 18 years old, to use this opportunity,” said Mabuyane.
He urged people to use their voting right to claim their space and ensure that they have a government that will be accountable to citizens.
“The election and voting that we are giving to the people is a right, as well as a privilege, that must be jealously guarded and protected by all of us. It is for the future of our country that we are working hard for, a united, non-sexist, non-racial, democratic and prosperous country,” he said.
Meanwhile, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe confirmed this week that members of the party’s top six and the national executive committee would be going around the country encouraging people to vote.
In the Eastern Cape the governing party, which has been embattled by staff protests due to nonpayment of salaries, has deployed its treasurer-general Paul Mashatile to mobilise potential voters to register.
Mashatile will visit the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, which is a political battlefield for political parties.
The metro is currently being run through a Democratic Alliance-led coalition.
In 2016, the DA got the most votes in Nelson Mandela Bay in the local government elections and formed a coalition with smaller parties to remove the ANC from power.
Norman Silke, the DA’s Eastern Cape spokesperson, said the provincial leadership, councillors and activists would be working across the province to encourage people to register.
Silke said the party wanted to win Nelson Mandela Bay by an outright majority this time around.
“The DA is campaigning for an outright majority government in Nelson Mandela Bay in order to bring stability and prosperity to the metro,” said Silke
DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube, Eastern Cape deputy provincial leader Bobby Stevenson, Gqeberha northern areas constituency leader, Yusuf Cassim and Nelson Mandela Bay campaign manager Retief Odendaal will visit Nelson Mandela Bay communities during the voter registration weekend.
Voter registration was opened by the IEC after it lost its application to the Constitutional Court to postpone the local government elections to next year.
On Thursday, Sy Mamabolo, chief electoral officer of the IEC said the commission was ready for the voter registration this weekend and the elections on November 1.
Mamabolo said the IEC had also written to minister of home affairs Aaron Motsoaledi to ask him to facilitate a request to President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare the election day a public holiday.
“This intervention is aimed at affording all voters an equal footing to participate in the elections without being encumbered by business and employment considerations on the day of voting,” he said.
Mamabolo said participating in the local government election was important as municipal councils play a crucial role in providing services that directly affect people on a daily basis.
“Electoral participation, which is impossible without registration, provides an opportunity to shape the local affairs of communities. Local government will be strengthened by the participation of sectors of our society, especially the youth and persons living with disabilities.
“We therefore call on all eligible voters to register over the weekend, and for those who have moved or changed their addresses to use this unique opportunity to amend their registration details,” said Mamabolo.