While the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has applauded young South Africans for coming out in their numbers on the weekend to register to vote, some others considered voting “a futile exercise”.
According to the IEC, 1.7 million voters registered during the special two-day registration weekend, and 433 198 of those registered for the first time.
During a media briefing on Monday afternoon, IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said that “young persons in the age category 16 to 29 accounted for 402 401 of the new registrations, which is 91%. Therefore, this registration effort has elicited a good response from young persons,” he said.
However, for Lesego Shakung (25), who hails from North West and lives in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, his decision not to be part of the more than 400 000 young people who registered to vote “was not a missed opportunity”.
Shakung told City Press:
“I cannot and do not see myself voting in the foreseeable future.”
For Free State-born Edward Mohale (28), his decision to not register to vote was based on “the fact that I have wasted my time voting in previous years”.
“So many people are standing on the road looking for jobs. But those in power are living lavish lifestyles.”
He said that what added to his frustrations was how Parliament was being run by people who were too old to make decisions for the country, and they should resign.
“Other countries have old-age homes, but in South Africa we have Parliament. It is a joke,” Mohale said.
“We keep voting, yet the same people remain in power. I have been an avid believer in the democracy that has afforded me the opportunity to be able to exercise my right to vote, but it has seemingly become useless and I am not doing it anymore,” he said.
Meanwhile, political parties have criticised the IEC for “glitches experienced” on the first day of voter registration.
“The high turnout on day one led to pressure on the commission’s information technology systems, in particular our new voter management devices (VMDs), which developed a glitch in the mapping functionality,” the IEC said on Monday.
“There were no glitches other than slow accessing of maps, which was resolved,” the commission’s deputy chief electoral officer, Mawethu Mosery, said.
On registration day, the VMD system is used to register new voters or update the details of registered voters. On voting day, it is used to check registration status and allows voters into the voting station only if they are registered in that district.
The EFF’s elections spokesperson Leigh-Ann Mathys told City Press:
“They are excluding South Africans and their right to be able to register to vote,” she added, without clarifying.
“It is like the IEC has become an extension of the ANC because the ANC wants to keep the status quo of a generally old electorate.”
DA spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said: “[There was a] need to use the VMDs offline while the glitches were fixed. The downside of this is that voters did not receive the proof of their registration status [immediately].”
However, the IEC said that SMSes were eventually sent.
“All those who were registered in whatever format have received SMSes and some continue to receive them,” said Mosery.
Mamabolo said that KwaZulu-Natal had recorded the highest registration numbers at 358 384, while Gauteng had recorded 315 282 and the Eastern Cape 240 514.
‘It’s not about our voices’
Like Shakung, Kgomotso Mashego (25) has never voted before and said, “I don’t think I ever will.”
Her main bone of contention was how “political parties’ main focus was on campaigning and not on the people”.
“It is not about our voices. Right now, all we have been seeing are political parties campaigning. This is how this works – here today, gone tomorrow,” she said. “Politicians are greedy and I cannot support greedy people in any way, shape or form.”