South Africans urged to register for local government elections as deadline nears

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Voters queue to cast their ballots in South Africa'sÊparliamentary and provincial elections, in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, South Africa, on May 8, 2019. Mike Hutchings/Reuters
FILE: Voters queue to cast their ballots in South Africa’sÊparliamentary and provincial elections, in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, South Africa, on May 8, 2019. Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Political parties, lawmakers, and the electoral body in South Africa have urged citizens to register for the upcoming local government elections, or municipal elections, ahead of next Monday’s deadline, with more than 23,151 registration stations set to open over the weekend.

Electoral Commission of South Africa on Sept. 6 announced that registration for voters will close on Sept. 20, following a registration weekend from Sept. 18-19, which will offer all eligible South African citizens an opportunity to register or update their registration details at all the voting stations.

The municipal elections that are held every five years will elect leadership at metropolitan, district, and local levels in over 200 municipalities across the country, who play a crucial role in providing services that directly affect South African citizens on a daily basis.

Fikile Xasa, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs of the Parliament, on Friday, called for maximum participation from all South Africans in the elections, as local governments are the engine of service delivery in the South African system of state.

Xasa, in a statement released here, urged all eligible South Africans, particularly the youth, to register to vote while adhering to COVID-19 protocols at registration stations.

The call came as the two largest parties in the country were mobilizing their supporters to register for the elections.

African National Congress (ANC), which is the ruling party since South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994, on Thursday announced that President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also president of the ANC, and other party officials will encourage communities on the ground to take advantage of the registration weekend and vote for the party.

It also announced that Ramaphosa and other ANC leaders will conduct community engagement after launching the election manifesto on Sept. 27 in Tshwane, the city that contains the administrative capital of Pretoria.

ANC reportedly failed to register all candidates in 93 municipalities, 35 of which were significantly affected, before the original deadline due to technical problems. The party, however, assured its members and supporters that it will register all candidates by Sept. 21 as the electoral body reopened candidate nominations.

Democratic Alliance (DA), the second largest party, on Friday announced its registration weekend program, during which its top leader John Steenhuisen and other party members will also visit communities to mobilize residents.

Among major cities in the country, DA, which is the biggest party in Tshwane and Johannesburg, is seeking for an outright majority in Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay, Steenhuisen told Xinhua in an interview Tuesday

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