People register to vote at a registration center in Protea, Soweto. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)
More than half a million people registered to vote on the first day of voter registration weekend. But in some voter registration offices turnout barely reached 50. Journalists from the Daily Maverick visited centers around Johannesburg and Durban.
From Johannesburg to Durban, voter apathy dominated the local voter registration weekend.
The IEC said that on the first day of the registration weekend, some 598,000 people had registered for the upcoming polls. As of Sunday morning, nearly 30,000 people had registered, with the commission expecting the number to increase later.
Lucia Zaca, an ANC party agent in Ward 78 of Section K of Umlazi, said she was concerned that there were fewer people coming to register or check if they were registered.
When Daily Maverick visited the KwaMgaga hall site on Sunday, she said they hoped the numbers would increase.
“On Saturday people came to the center, but there weren’t as many as we expected. We hope to attract more people today. We also see more women coming than men, ”she said.
“We hope that those who have not passed know that they are registered. But we understand that some people are unhappy and have lost interest in voting, ”she said.
According to the 2011 census, Umlazi has a population of over 400,000, the majority of whom speak IsiZulu.
Sifiso Ntombela (54), who went to check if he is registered on the site, said he was “still considering whether to vote or not”.
Ntombela, who lives in an RDP house in Section K of Umlazi, says he is not happy with the way the ruling party has governed. He never had a permanent job.
“I’m not happy with a lot of things. I don’t know why I would need to vote because even now I have nothing, ”he said.
Ntombela, who has epilepsy, says he is not treated well in hospitals and other government departments, and that these are signs of poor governance.
Thembinkosi Dlamini (33) said he did not intend to vote and did not see the need to register or verify if he was registered. He said he did not vote in the last election in 2019.
Dlamini said he believes the vote will not change people’s living conditions.
“Where I stay, there is a passage that we take to get to our home. It was built but not finished. I have often told the councilor in our region to come and see how people suffer when it rains. Our mothers and grandmothers have to walk on it when it’s slippery, ”Dlamini said.
At Ngilosi Primary School in Ward 83, a registration site in Umlazi, Section M, at least 59 people came to check if they were registered and 29 registered on Saturday. On Sunday morning, only 22 had come to check if they had registered and only seven had registered.
IEC officials at the site said the turnout was lower than expected. Hlengiwe Ngcobo, a CIS official at the site, said they hoped the numbers would increase later in the afternoon.
Nkosinathi Mseleku, an IEC official, at the secondary registration site in Ganges, south of Durban, said a small number of people came to register and check if they were registered.
On Saturday, he said, at least seven people came to register while 11 came to check if they were registered to vote. Sunday morning, at least five people came to check if they were registered.
Sohail Ramkhelawan, a DA party agent in the area, said he believed part of the reason for the low turnout was that some people knew they were registered and others were registering. line.
Action SA KZN leader Makhosi Khoza said she believed some people were feeling intimidated after the recent shooting outside Buhlebethu Primary School in Inanda. Speaking at a registration site in Albert Park in Durban’s CBD, she said registration was slow on Saturday but they were hoping it would resume on Sunday.
“People are very scared at KZN and we try to encourage them to go and register anyway, but obviously if something threatens your life, it’s very difficult because you cannot redeem your life,” he said. she declared.
IEC official Londiwe Tambo said on Saturday 90 people had visited the site to register and check if they were registered.
Devin Govender, of Chatsworth, said he doesn’t believe in voting. “I don’t believe what the government is doing. Once you put the parties in positions and seats in parliament, they forget about the people, ”he said.
Xolani Msibi (44) from Umlazi said he went to check if it was registered and that he was happy to hear it was still registered. Msibi said he believed voting was his right and wanted to exercise that choice.
In Soweto, where Cyril Ramaphosa launched the ANC election campaign on Saturday, Nosihle Mkhulise, ANC member in Ward 10 of Protea South, said she looked forward to improvements in the region, especially in this regard. which concerns unemployment.
“People’s diplomas and degrees are gathering dust. We also want decent houses, not the shacks we are stuck in, ”Mkhulise said.
Meanwhile, EFF’s Walter Skyman said: “We have a good chance of coming out victorious on election day in October. The big elephant, the ANC, is widely divided, ”while campaigning in Ward 10 of Protea South.
Daily Maverick also caught up with Sizwe Bhembe, 42, an ANC council candidate for Ward 17 consisting of Waterworks, Zuurbekom and Ezulwini in south Johannesburg. He promised to prioritize the speed of service delivery.
“As you can see, here in Zuurbekom the street lights are lacking,” Bhembe said. He said it was a problem because the criminals operated more freely under the cover of darkness. He also promised a high school in the area.
“The question of housing is also another problem. As in many other communities across the country, housing was a problem in all three areas of Ward 17. Aggrieved community members often protested the lack of service delivery. Sometimes it escalates into violence and criminality, but little has changed in many years.
“We have a huge backlog,” admitted Bhembe.
Rahaba Ngwenya (59) arrived at the Zuurbekom registration center with her daughter. These are the only people who signed up for Daily Maverick was here.
“I am registering to vote because the municipality has worked for me,” Ngwenya said.
“I also want to have a word, I want to have my say,” Ngwenya’s daughter said. The family said they were new to Zuurbekom and had migrated from the Free State.
The Killarney Country Club registration center, which is part of a district run by AD, was also very quiet. Three people registered during Daily Mavericks little time at the registration center.
“We came to register to vote because we just moved to Killarney,” said an elderly couple.
“You can’t cry if you don’t register and vote,” said Christo Wessels, 36, as he gathered his golf gear to go play. Wessels said he was registered and was only there to play golf.
Aaron Ngwetjana (59) arrived at the registration center in a good mood. He said that by registering he fulfilled his duties as a citizen.
The most notable difference between places like Alexandra and Protea South and Zuurbekom and Killarney was that none of the people checking in in Killarney bemoaned the lack of service delivery and jobs.
In Alexandra, an elderly woman who declined to give her name said she did not expect much from the government. Despite being one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, the people of Alexandra have to endure deplorable living conditions.
Alexandra’s decline is often attributed to corruption involving the controversial Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP).
Bheki Vilakazi, a 40-year-old Action SA member, said he registered to vote for his party because he was fed up with the lack of change.
At another registration center in Alexandra, resident Sandiso Sinto, an unemployed father of two, came to check if he was registered.
“There are no jobs, no roads, corruption is rife… killings by our trusted black leaders. I had sworn never to vote again, but I’m desperate for change, ”he said.
“All these years, I voted for the ANC but I am disappointed. When you look for work, they tell you that you are old and that young people need a job. But we are not eligible for old age benefits either. Those of us who are 35 and over face a huge employment dilemma; we do not know how we will escape. How is it that they say we are old when we are not entitled to old age benefits?
” We struggle. The money is being siphoned off by our fellow black leaders. You can’t take kids to college with money selling tomatoes. DM