| SOUTH AFRICA

Most unregistered voters are under 30

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Success of weekend registration drive depends on youth turnout

Photo of Aphiwe Sam
Aphiwe Sam sees no point in registering to vote. Photo: Bulelani Ngovi
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Khanya Bangiso, 24, from NU 14 in Mdantsane, East London, is committed to voting. “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain,” he said. “Voting gives you a right to express your views as a citizen. So I’m going full throttle to [register to] vote this weekend for a better future.”

But not all young people agree with him. Aphiwe Sam, 21, from C-Section in Ziphunzana, East London, says he sees no need to register to vote. “I won’t vote because that won’t make any difference. Some of us, like myself, have matric certificates, but we can’t pursue our studies due to lack of money. The government is not helping us in anything.”

Phoziswa Tyhala, 22, from B-Hostel in Duncan Village, East London, says voting is worthless, “We don’t see change after voting. People are unemployed although some are qualified for job vacancies, and in our area we keep experiencing sewage flooding problems, even though people vote.”

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), eligible voters are expected to register in large numbers this weekend so they can vote in the 2016 Municipal Elections.

The elections will be held some time between 18 May and 16 August.

Voting stations will be open throughout the country between 8am and 5pm on Saturday and Sunday (5 and 6 March) to assist:

  • people who are not registered to register as voters for the first time;
  • people who previously registered but have moved and therefore need to register in their new voting district; and
  • people whose registration status may have been affected by changes to ward or voting district boundary changes.

IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela, in a press statement, wrote that she expects the weekend to go smoothly. “A total of 22,570 voting stations will open this weekend, 1,711 more than in the previous municipal elections held in 2011, and 307 more than in the 2014 national and provincial elections, when there were 22,263 voting stations,” she said.

Young people are the main target for this weekend’s registration. The IEC, citing Stats SA, estimates that 62% of unregistered voters are younger than 30. 34 million South Africans are of voting age. Currently 73% of them are estimated to be registered to vote.

Read more about the 2016 Municipal Elections.

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TOPICS:  Local Elections 2016

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