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Political parties in full swing during voter registration weekend

Political parties were out in full force on Saturday to encourage their supporters to register to vote in the upcoming local government elections.

Gearing up for what is expected to be a hotly contested election, leaders were campaigning in full swing across the country.

African National Congress (ANC) Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, was in the Vhembe district in Limpopo, accompanied by provincial leadership and MEC’s.

In Thoyandou, he interacted with people at the local taxi rank and embarked on a door to door campaign.

His message was that responsible citizens will vote during the municipal elections.

“To encourage people to vote and register… we will be coming back to encourage them to vote. The good thing is that many of them are registered so we are very happy. The majority of people we came across here are taking up their civic duties very actively and responsibly and they are registered. That is want we want.”

Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane took his message to the west of Gauteng.

He says if South Africans want change, voting is the only way to affect this.

Maimane was registering to vote at his alma mater, Allen Glen High School in Roodepoort, flanked by the party’s mayoral candidate for Johannesburg Herman Mashaba and Gauteng leader, John Moody.

Maimane says his party will dent the ANC’s support in the upcoming local government elections.

“Whilst the ANC is falling apart, we need to be able to build South Africa and put South Africa first. So while they are fighting… whether they are fighting SARS, whether they are fighting about the Nkandla Report, let them keep doing that… our focus is really to say to South Africans we need an alternative; help us save South Africa. We don’t want a downgrade. We don’t want people to be unemployed. We want to come out, and in fact people get the change that they need and take this country in the right direction.”

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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) echoed the DA’s change message.

The Secretary General, Godrich Gardee, went door-to-door in the Motherwell Township of Port Elizabeth.

The battle for the Nelson Mandela Bay is expected to be a tight race.

Gardee also visited a few voting stations, engaging the public.

He says the EFF is ready to restore hope.

“As the Economic Freedom Fighters, we are targeting all the demographics of the society and all the structures of the community. We will be speaking to the poor and the rich, we will be speaking to the young and the old, we will be speaking to the unemployed and the employed, we will be speaking to the students in universities and the students in high schools and passing through the message of the EFF that now ke nako, it’s time they must register to vote.”

Congress of the People Leader, Mosuia Lekota, hit the dusty streets of Moroleng in the North West.

He says his choice of location was driven by the conditions of abject poverty that citizens there live under.

“Having evaluated the current government, they have an opportunity if they have registered to vote for someone else who may handle their situation more sensitively. I think that most of those we spoke to formed the impression that there is no hope, no survival in giving up, and they changed their minds that they should really go and register.”

Freedom Front Leader (FF Plus), Pieter Mulder, and his members were hard at work in Potchefstroom.

Mulder says he is concerned that by the organisation levels of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). He felt punctuality was a problem at some stations and potential voters were sent from pillar to post.

He says people must not find themselves not being able to vote because they have not registered on time.

“My argument to the voters is very simple: It is please go and register, because most of them don’t want to register now – and then in the end when the voting becomes very hot, and the propaganda on voting day, then they decide to vote and then they are not registered. So don’t disqualify yourself before… register and then decide if you want to vote or not, but then you are in the game.”

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says more than 95% of the registration centres opened on time but remain concerned by the isolated incidents of violence in all most all the provinces.

Voter registration continues on Sunday with politicians continuing to woo voters.

– By Busi Chimombe

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