IEC E. Cape reports success in weekend voter registration drives

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The Electoral Commission (IEC) in the Eastern Cape says its voter registration activations in high schools and higher learning institutions yielded positive results during last weekend’s voter registration.

Close to 85 thousand new prospective voters registered, and 82% of those new registrations were young people.

Nelson Mandela Metro is the district with the highest number of youth registrations, with close to six thousand new voters registered between the ages of 18 and 21 years old.

Followed by Buffalo City Metro with more than four thousand new registrations.

The IEC in the province says that during the course of the year, it visited several institutions of higher learning to educate the youth about the importance of voting.

The Eastern Cape IEC Chief Electoral Officer, Khayakazi Magudumana says, “We did go to about 320 schools in this financial year; we went to all institutions of higher learning, and I think the engagements we had, even those that did not register, I think they were able to understand. We do not go there to register, but we conduct voter education as well. So I am hoping that in the coming voter registration, which will be earlier next year, they will be able to take part and register in numbers.”

18-year-old Hlulani Matata, a student at Nelson Mandela University, was among the new prospective voters.

She believes her vote will make a difference.

“Now that we are facing unemployment, I’m scared after finishing this degree. I could be jobless; I could be staying at home for years. I know many graduates who have done Masters or PhDs who are still at home. Every year, that will create jobs. I will do this, but nothing happens.”

The youth have been under the microscope for not registering and voting in past elections.

Another student from Nelson Mandela University, 20-year-old Malixole Nkumanda, will be voting for the second time and has encouraged his peers to utilise their constitutional rights.

“I think voting is something we believe does not bring change, but also something a lot of us believe doesn’t bring change because, when we look at it, a higher percentage of voters are older people, and they have been voting for one party they have been with for their whole life. So we, as the youth, don’t see our votes.”

The Eastern Cape has more than half a million registered voters, and the numbers are expected to increase during next year’s voter registration weekend.