Issuing of old IDs angers residents

Home Affairs offices under fire. Communities threaten not to vote


Several home affairs offices are still operating with a system that can only produce green bar-coded identity documents, which has angered communities.
As a result, they threatened not to vote, council speakers told home affairs minister Siyabonga Cwele on Wednesday. This is despite the roll-out of smart ID cards in 2013.
Cwele called a meeting with council speakers and co-operative governance and traditional affairs officials in King William’s Town to devise a strategy to ensure speedy collections of IDs before the final voter registration this weekend.
During the meeting, council speakers from across the province spoke of different challenges in their communities, urging Cwele to upgrade the system.
Ntabankulu council speaker Vuyokazi Matwasa told Cwele that many in her region were threatening not to vote if the system did not change.
“We are asking for the upgrading of our office to be a priority. We know that every five years people vote. There should have been a plan for this situation,” she said.
Port St Johns councillor Ayanda Gantsho echoed Matwasa’s sentiments. He said they constantly had to answer to communities as to why the department had not upgraded its system in rural areas.
“The majority of people in the area, as much as they did IDs, they do not want to collect them. They are saying there are new smart cards that only go to people that are in urban areas, as if they are not important.”
With just two days before the final weekend to register to vote, the department of home affairs released staggering numbers of Eastern Cape residents who are yet to collect their IDs.
The department has a mission to issue at least 40,000 IDs which remain uncollected, with the majority of those from last year’s applicants, Cwele said.
The engagement meeting was an effort to devise strategies to distribute IDs before the final voter registration this weekend, he said.
Figures from last week show the bulk of the uncollected IDs are from the Buffalo City Metro, Nelson Mandela Bay and OR Tambo districts.
The Bay is leading with 13,000 uncollected IDs, followed by 7,000 from OR Tambo and 6,000 from BCM.
To try and contribute towards a successful voter registration weekend, all home affairs offices will be open on Saturday and Sunday, so that those who were yet to collect their IDs could get them.
Provincial department manager Gcinile Mabulu complained of ID coordinators from regional elections teams who were lax in providing lists of people for collection.
“To us it presented a great deal of concern, from those people we would have expected that our office managers are inundated by calls to have distribution list. If there were calls, it was so negligent,” he said.
Responding to complaints, Cwele said the department was short staffed.
“Our staff has been cut by more than 400 just last year. When someone resigns they are not replaced. There were some that were disciplined and fired and there was no replacement.
“That is one of the challenges we are facing. I’ve taken these very extensive notes and this was a fruitful meeting.”..

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