Presidency: Elections will be historic

President Jacob Zuma called on “born frees” to vote and decide the country’s future.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma on 12 June 2013. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The 2014 General Elections will be historic, the Presidency said on Friday.

It said the future of South Africa will be decided by "born frees" who will be voting for the very first time.

The comments come after President Jacob Zuma earlier announced that elections will take place on 7 May.

The president said he was satisfied with preparations by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

He made the announcement as the country prepares for the final voter registration drive this weekend.

But the announcement hasn't been made official through the Government Gazette, meaning registration can go ahead.

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj says it's time for the youth of the country to contribute meaningfully to democracy.

"President Zuma would like to congratulate all first-time voters. They are coming of age this year and they will be deciding the future of this beautiful country.

"We rely on the youth, says President Zuma, to take the benefits of this freedom forward and build this country further. South Africa is their inheritance."

The 2014 polls will take place just 10 days after the 27 April anniversary of the 1994 elections.

Political analyst Daniel Silke says new parties such as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will bring a new dynamic to the polls.

"It's going to be a pretty combative election. We've got new entrants into the political playing field and they are pretty combative themselves - such as the EFF of [Julius] Malema. I think we're going to see an election filled with quite tetchy and testy rhetoric."

To read the president's full statement click here.

REGISTRATION PROBLEMS

The South African Prisoners' Organisation for Human Rights claims tens of thousands of inmates will not register to vote in the elections as they do not have identification documents.

Voter registration in more than 200 prisons started on Wednesday.

The group's Golden Miles Bhudu says many prisoners won't cast their ballot.

Western Cape IEC head Courtney Sampson says while the prison registration drive is going smoothly, it is still too early to say how many inmates have registered.

"I've been to Goodwood and Drakenstein. This morning I was at Pollsmoor and the process is going very well. The offenders have been very well supported by the Department of Correctional Services and the department has also supported us very well."