The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) says it has identified possible hotspots ahead of the voter registration weekend and handed them over to the police to provide security.
The IEC briefed the media on Thursday afternoon about its readiness for the registration weekend ahead of the local government elections on November 1.
Following the Constitutional Court’s dismissal of an application by the IEC to postpone the elections until next year, the commission announced that voter and candidate registrations would be reopened.
Councillor candidate meetings, particularly those of the ANC, have been marred by violence in several parts of the country. Just recently, over the weekend, three people attending such a meeting in Inanda, Durban, died following a drive-by shooting.
Chief electoral officer of the IEC, Sy Mamabolo, said the commission had been working with the national joint operational and intelligence structure to ensure that there was safety at voter registration stations this weekend.
“We also had a priority committee meeting this morning where possible hotspots were identified and have been handed over to the SAPS [SA Police Service], which will provide the necessary security for people. So, nobody should be interrupted.
“If you are unhappy about any other process, be it from a political party or from the municipality, or any matter, it does not give you the right to disrupt any process. So, we urge all communities across the country that this is not a process to disrupt, this is about people using their right to vote. This is a constitutional right, and you have no right to interfere with that,” said Mamabolo.
Aside from people going to physical registration sites over the weekend, Mamabolo said the commission had also launched an online registration portal in July, which people can use to register and confirm their registration.
He said that, as of this morning, since its launch, 156 000 voters had used the online system to register. The system would remain open until the date of the proclamation of the elections, which is expected to be on Monday.
IEC officials would also be making home visits to those people who were either sick, too old or pregnant and could not go to the physical registration sites. Mamabolo said the commission would be providing its staff with the necessary personal protective equipment to give people confidence that “we are not coming to leave any virus in people’s homes”. He said the commission hoped that people would open their homes to allow the officials to serve them.
“It is not mandatory for you to be vaccinated in order to register to vote,” he said. Instead, the IEC will implement nonpharmaceutical interventions at all its voting stations for protection against the spread of the virus.
The IEC has written to Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, for him to facilitate a request to President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare the election day as a public holiday in order to allow for as many voters as possible to turn out, and not be restricted by work and other commitments.
Already, this week, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that matric exams would now commence on October 27 and no longer on November 1, to accommodate elections.
Mamabolo said this was a great gesture and would allow for young voters to come out and vote on the day. He also said that political parties would have until the day before elections, October 31, to campaign.