Protests mar first day of final voter registration weekend

The Electoral Commission of South Africa says it’s aware of growing protests at some voter registration stations in Krugersdorp.

FILE: IEC officials prepare to welcome eligible voters on the first day of the final weekend of registration. Picture: Katleho Sekhotho/Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has appealed to South Africans to not conflate municipal issues with national and provincial matters by blocking others from registering to vote.

The IEC says it’s aware of growing protests at some voter registration stations in Krugersdorp.

The commission says units have been deployed to the area.

Over 22,000 voting stations are open across the country for the final weekend registration drive.

It’s peaceful and quiet in Diepsloot as several people continue to trickle in and out of the Muzomuhle Primary School to register.

Party agents from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the African National Congress (ANC) can also be seen working just a stone throw away from IEC officials who are guiding those who’ve come to register.

The agents say they are encouraged by the turn out of young people.

Chairperson of the IEC Glen Mashinini says security measures will be taken at stations where there are protests: “If you want to exercise your right to protect, that’s fine but remember there are other rights that are enshrined in our Constitution for anybody that wants to participate in the elections, you cannot obstruct those people.”

Mashinini says officials from the IEC are already interacting with protesters in Krugersdorp.

‘WE WON’T BE REGISTERING TO VOTE’

Residents of Thembelihle in Lenasia are protesting the IEC, barring the electoral body from entering the informal settlement.

Thembelihle residents say the local councillor Ezekiel Tsotetsi has failed in his duties and are calling for him to step down.

They say they won’t be registering to vote or participate in the upcoming elections due to the lack of service delivery in the area, and until Tsotetsi vacates his post.
Earlier a group of residents blocked the K43 with burning tyres.

This resident says they do not want the IEC’s involvement after they were allegedly told by the councillor that the informal settlement is not earmarked for service delivery.

“The IEC has a problem with us because when we vote, we vote for a councillor... the councillor then fails to deliver on services. We don’t want the IEC here [Thembelihle] anymore.”

Meanwhile, Congress of the People (Cope) spokesperson Dennis Bloem says if a change is not made, the country will be destroyed: “The Congress of the People is calling in all South Africans to register to vote. Our country stands at a crossroad, either we save the country or all of us will sink. The only way we can save it [our country] is by registering to vote.”