Friday, November 17, 2023

IN DEPTH: IEC says it's all systems go for registration weekend

The Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa says it’s all systems go for the voter registration weekend that takes place on the 18th and 19th of November 2023.



Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo, along with his counterparts briefed the media at the IEC’s headquarters in Centurion, Pretoria on Wednesday.

This is the IEC’s first voter registration campaign ahead of the 2024 general elections.

‘’Over two days, on 18 and 19 November, we will welcome eligible citizens at 23 296 registration stations across our great land. Registration stations will operate between 08h00 and 17h00 on both days,’’ said Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo.

‘’Opening of all registration stations this weekend provides equal opportunity to all South Africans to access the voter registration process. Registration weekends as a modality of registration provides us by far the greatest registration yield in comparison with other methods. Therefore, we approach this weekend with a measure of expectation that this weekend will once again provide us significant registration activity,’’ he added.

Mamabola says of the 62 million people living in South Africa, 39.7 million are of voting age population, adding that its voters’ roll currently stands at 26.2 million, representing 66%.

He said of the 23 296 voting stations across the country, 62% are schools, 9.7% are places of worship, and the balance of 28% includes community halls, and other municipal infrastructure.

‘’There are a further 959 temporary voting stations across the country… The institutionalisation of temporary stations ensures that the electoral services reach communities which would otherwise not have the services available. They are, therefore, an important mechanism of extending franchise rights to all eligible citizens,’’ said Mamabolo.

Mamabolo said over 50,000 of the IEC staff are unemployed persons.

“69,718 staff have been recruited and trained for this registration weekend. Out of these appointed staff, 53,028 are female, and 16,690 are male. In addition, 35,640 registration staff are under the age of 35, whilst 26,475 are between the ages of 36 and 50. The balance of 7603 are 50 years are older. Crucially 50 213 of the total staff compliment are unemployed persons.’’

The Chief Commisioner said the Voter Management Devices are the mainstay technology of the delivery registration processes. The VMDs has been introduced in 2021 and has gone significant improvements.

He added that the operation processes has been advanced

‘’Three business applications will be running on the devices during these weekend. These are the staff attendance register, voting station monitoring and voter registration applications. The devices are designed to operate online via an Access Point Network (APN). However, all three applications have been coded to operate offline in a number of instances including when there is insufficient connection with the central database. The migration between the online and offline modes of the devices will happen without operator intervention,’’ said Sy Mamabolo, Chief Electoral Officer.

‘’A dry-run was conducted on 28 October to assess the functionality of the devices as well as the infrastructure that underpins its functionality. Again, optimisations have been effected in the light of the insights arising from the dry-run exercise.’’

‘’The delivery of essential voter registration materials, including VMDs, stationery packs, arrow signs, and document storage boxes, have been provisioned and delivery completed across all provinces. Importantly, the registration process does not require the completion of forms at the station and therefore limited time will be spent at the station for actual registration.  The voters’ roll, as it existed in October 2023, has been printed and delivered to municipalities. Approximately 260 tons of equipment and material has been handled through our logistics value chain,’’ he added.

 Mamabolo says since July 2021, 1.1 million people has registered using its online portal. 52% were registerd in the past 11 months. New registrations are 40.6% of the total online registration activity. The IEC Head says Women mostly registered online at 56%, Youth under the age of 29, indicate a strong usage level at 49.6%.

Last weekend, and including this weekend, the Department of Home Affairs extended its operating hours, from 8am to 5p.m, to allow citizens to collect their IDs and passports.

Mamabolo says that security will be beefed up, should there be any disruptions, but he does not forsee it

‘’Within the auspices of NATJOINTS, there is a priority committee that was established, and the responsibility is to see the process from beginning to end. The plans that has been agreed, we hope there will not be any disruptions’’

COURTESY: IEC


In terms of connectivity, and the IEC head says the Voting Management Devices does operate offline.

‘’We are working with partners to ensure that the infrastructure we require to make processes seamless is effective. Should there be any disruption to the connectivity, it will operate offline. When we are offline, we will not cease operation, so the VMD will continue to operate in an offline, at a point it will transmit the information when we are back online.’’

Mamabolo says load shedding remains a concern

‘’Load shedding is a always an issue of concern as it operates business operations, but we will not be so much reliant on energy supply, as the VMD will carry us through when it is fully charged.’’

IEC head, Sy Mamabolo says there are 4 000 democracy facilitators on the ground in SA, to engage communities about the upcoming elections, on what is needed for registration weekend, etc.

In an unrelated matter, and Mamabolo says the IEC has agreed on a recruitment and selection criteria of political parties. This comes after allegations from the EFF and ATM, that federation union, SADTU are working with the IEC, which is associated with the ANC.

‘’The IEC has no policy to hire SADTU. The IEC has agreed a recruitment and selection criteria with political parties. All staff working at the registration weekend, has been taken to local party liaison, so if they do have a problem, they can raise an objection, and if they succeed, the person will be removed. There’s also a modicum of management experience within the ages of a voting station, because you can’t have unemployed people at a voting station without management experience.’’

Mamabolo says there will be another voting registration weekend, but citizens shouldn’t wait until the next one.

‘’The commission will have another, but this one should be as successful as should be. There will be a registration weekend of embassy’s to give citizens abroad, but beyond that there will eb an online facility to those abroad.’’

IEC head, Sy Mambolo, says the IEC hopes to register at least an additional of a million people this weekend.

‘’We got to be realistic, because our regiostration process is voluntary, so we hope to see one people to register to vote.’’

On getting the youth to vote, Mamabolo says they have reached out to various organisations to educate young people on the importance of voting

‘’We have been working hard to lieu people and getting them to register to vote. We went to schools, tertiary institutions, etc. to engage young ones about civic and democracy education.’’

Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo, urged South Africans to register for the upcoming registration weekend, if they have not done so already, or perhaps update their details.

‘’Only those who are on the voters’ roll can have a say in the electoral outcomes next year. Even if you have not as yet decided to vote, it is still important to be on the voters’ roll because your choice can only be recorded if you are registered. The Commission also encourages registered voters to check the correctness of their details by visiting registration stations over the weekend.’’

ARCHIVE: Goucher College’s Eric Singer speaking with a Bush Radio intern


To register as a voter, you must be a South African citizen, be 16 years or older, and have a valid South African identity document.

To find your voting station, visit the Electoral Commission’s website, www.elections.org.za, or call our helpline on 0800 11 8000. The webchat on our Voter Portal has received considerable number of visitors, closely followed by our WhatsApp chats. Join the community of citizens who can get voter registration and other election information by WhatsApping “hi” to 060 088 0000. It’s your democracy; own it!

 

Done By: Mitchum George

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