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All systems go for voter registration this weekend, IEC tells parliament

Preparation has been 'a logistical undertaking of significant proportion', says deputy CEO Masego Sheburi

The election theme announced on October 24 is 'Your democracy — Own it'. File photo.
The election theme announced on October 24 is 'Your democracy — Own it'. File photo.
Image: Alaister Russell/Sunday Times

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says preparation for voter registration weekend and next year's elections has been a logistical undertaking of significant proportion.

The commission was reporting back to parliament's portfolio committee on home affairs on Tuesday about the state of readiness for voter registration weekend on November 18 and 19.

IEC deputy CEO Masego Sheburi said the campaign aims to remind South Africans that democracy belongs to them.

"An election is ultimately about people. In that regard we have demonstrated the platforms we are going to use, the messaging we are going to share to rekindle belief among South African voters that democracy is theirs and they should take ownership thereof,” he said.

In line with the election theme announced on October 24 titled "Your democracy — Own it”, the campaign messaging reflects the objective to rekindle individual agency of voters.

Sheburi said there was careful consideration of the platforms to be used to spread the message of voter registration and elections to South Africans. These include TV, radio, print, out-of-home advertising, a contact centre and digital channels.

"The choice of platforms is not random. Research indicates TV and radio are the predominant channels of preference for receiving information.”

The deputy CEO said the commission conducted a study with young people who did not intend to vote and revealing findings were made.

"Young people tell us they are always on social media but do not trust social media as a platform for receiving information. While they may follow and like certain celebrities, they do not rely on them to form opinions and influencers do not shape their thoughts on politics.”

Regarding staff readiness, the commission said it had 69,775 vacant positions, of which 69,661 were filled. Of those, 69,097 have already been trained.

The figures and names have been provided to parties in the political liaison committee to facilitate any objections in terms of the selected individuals against the recruitment criteria, should officers be deemed unsuitable to perform the roles.

The IEC reported a total of 23,296 voting stations that are expected to be furnished with registration material which includes ID stickers, stationery packs, voting station arrow signs, document storage boxes with lids, cardboard furniture, box files and a voters' roll.

Sheburi said the IEC has sought to demonstrate preparation for an election is an administratively involved process.

"To that end we have recruited, trained and presented the names of the people who will be operating the voting stations during the voter registration weekend. It has been a logistical undertaking of significant proportion and we have secured the point of representation at which people are able to go and register as voters. These will have the requisite material ready and available to assist members of the public.”

Voter registration is expected to take place on Saturday and Sunday at voting stations across the country.

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