More than 1.7-million voters registered for the upcoming local government election at the weekend, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said on Monday, with KwaZulu-Natal recording the highest number at 358 384.
This was followed by Gauteng with 315 282 with the Eastern Cape third with 240 514 registrations, IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo told journalists.
“New registrations account for 433198 applications. This accounts for 25% of the total registration activity,” he said, adding that young people aged 16 to 29 accounted for 402 401 or 91% of new registrations, mainly because of the availability of the online registration process.
“We’ve made huge strides in this regard, the use of the online registration portal is beginning to give us the benefits of getting younger voters to be part of our political processes.”
Women accounted for 52% of the newly registered voters.
On Sunday 19 September more than 121 000 people used the online registration portal, which will remain open until midnight on Monday 20 September.
“Our expectation is that the use of the portal will remain on the top end for most of today [Monday], as people use the remaining hours to register,” said Mamabolo.
The IEC, however, warned on its Twitter account on Monday afternoon that the portal was experiencing heavy traffic, and urged users to be patient.
Mamabolo said the IEC had brought in 10 additional servers to increase capacity and was monitoring the system on a 24-hour basis “to ensure that there are no service disruptions”.
Applications for special votes opened on Monday 20 September and will close on 4 October. These votes will be cast on 30 and 31 October, before the nationwide local government elections on 1 November.
The vice-chancellor of the electoral commission, Janet Love, said the IEC had received no complaints following the registration weekend.
Responding to a scuffle between members of the Economic Freedom Fighters and the ruling ANC in KwaZulu-Natal’s KwaDambuza area, Love stressed that “everybody should have the right to contest freely and have the right to access every community to express what it is their party is hoping to do”.
“So we’ll wait to receive a contract complaint, should it be submitted to us, and then it will be clearer what sort of process we need to embark on,” she added.
Political parties and independent candidates intending to contest in the elections have until 5pm on Tuesday 21 September to submit their nominations. The final list of candidates is expected to be certified and published on Wednesday 29 September.