Citizens urged to register before elections are proclaimed

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister David Van Rooyen has urged South Africans to register to vote in the upcoming Local Government Elections before the voters’ roll closes.

The Minister said this when he briefed the media ahead of tabling the department’s Budget Vote policy statement in the National Assembly on Tuesday morning.

“It would be wrong for us to conclude the speech today without encouraging all South Africans to use the period until the proclamation of the election date in the Government Gazette to register to vote, as well as update their details on the voters’ roll, inclusive of providing their addresses.

“Once the voters’ roll is closed, we urge South Africans to go out in their numbers to vote in the 3 August 2016 Local Government Elections,” he said.

The department’s Deputy Minister, Andries Nel, said by law, the Electoral Commission (IEC) usually requires a period of 70 to 90 days between the proclamation date and election day.

He said a lot of progress has been made by government to ensure that the country is ready for the fourth democratic Local Government Elections.

The Minister said since the electoral judgment on Tlokwe on the issue of voters who are on the voters’ roll without registered residential addresses, government – through the work done by the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on elections – has begun assigning geo-coded identifiers to those without addresses.

In a briefing last month, Minister Van Rooyen said they would have liked to proclaim the election date soon after the announcement of the election date. However, they are awaiting the important Constitutional Court decision on the clarification of the issue of the challenge relating to citizens and households without formal addresses.

“We are confident that the Constitutional Court decision on the 9th of May will provide clarification relating to citizens and households without formal addresses. The proclamation of the election date in the Government Gazette will follow the decision of the Constitutional Court.

“As the government responsible for local government, we have worked closely with the IEC in preparation of the Local Government Elections,” he said.

Minister Van Rooyen said around 12 million out of approximately 26 million voters are currently affected by the address issue.

Back-to-Basics revitalizing municipalities

Minister Van Rooyen said, meanwhile, that the Back-to-Basics strategy has revitalised the delivery of services in municipalities.

“Municipalities are reimagining themselves and taking more responsibility for their actions. Our Back-to-Basic teams on the ground have ensured that our interventions have resulted in a number of successes.

“A number of Ward Level Service Improvement Plans have been developed, focusing on key programmes in distressed municipalities like Mogalakwena, Nelson Mandela Bay, Ngaka Modiri, Oudtshoorn and Makana,” he said.

He said the department has embarked on the second phase of the strategy, which involves an intensification of government’s efforts to improve service delivery to citizens, including improving interactions between councillors and citizens; prioritising municipalities that received disclaimer audit opinions and appointing suitably qualified officials, among others.

Government offering drought relief

Meanwhile, Minister Van Rooyen said the IMC set up to tackle the drought is coordinating responses to the challenges.

He said the National Disaster Management Centre has been at the centre of efforts to mitigate the effects of the drought.

“Currently, affected provinces are receiving drought relief in the form of feeds for livestock, livestock water, and water for human consumption. Boreholes have been drilled for both human and animal consumption.

“In those areas where boreholes are not feasible due to topography and lack of ground water, water tankering services have been provided,” he said.

SOURCE: Government Communication and information System