By SA News
By Kemantha Govender
“Change” was the word on several people’s lips on Saturday as voter registration for the upcoming local government elections got underway in Durban.
Sixty-seven-year-old Angeline Mhlongo, a vibrant woman, who lives in a retirement home in the Durban city centre and has voted in every election since 1994, was just one of many who felt voting would make a difference.
“If you want to see change then you must vote. We have seen changes with President Jacob Zuma but more must be done for the elderly people,” she said.
Mhlongo’s main concern was the amount of the grant she receives. She felt it was too little and with the rent at her retirement home going up by a further R200 soon, Mhlongo was worried about her financial situation.
“I have no family – no mother, father or brothers and sisters – so I have no help. I am hoping that government in this province will help me, that’s why I will be voting,” said Mhlongo.
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) presiding officer Bheki Mthimkhulu at the Durban City Hall, where Mhlongo went to verify her details, said people had been streaming in from 8am but greater crowds were expected later today and on Sunday.
Mthimkhulu, who has worked during several elections, said at least 2 000 people were expected to visit the voting station in central Durban.
“In my experience, most of the people will come on Sunday. They are normally at work on a Saturday. People will come register because they want to see an improvement in service delivery, and it’s been very positive here so far.”
Precious Msomi was one of these positive people. The 24-year-old came to register after seeing a friend’s Facebook status.
“I have a responsibility to get involved in the voting process. I need my voice to be heard and I can’t really complain if I don’t vote,” said Msomi.
The young Durban resident explained that education was her biggest passion and she wanted to see improvement in this area.
“Government has some great strategies but needs to implement them more. The OBE [outcomes based education] for example was great but changes were made. We need something quick to improve education standards so that when we go to varsity [and] we can do better,” said Msomi.
She added that political parties needed to do more to get the youth on board. “They need to explain how one vote can make a difference because a lot of the time, we just think our vote will not matter and don’t end up voting,” she said.
Nomalizo Khaile became an IEC official because she was committed to public service. She said she had enjoyed her first day of voter registration.
“I am very inspired to help the community and I feel this is one way in which I can. I have been explaining the process to people who don’t know and telling them why voting is important,” said Khaile.
She added: “We have had a few new registrations and several people checking their information, we are expecting many more by the end of this weekend.”
The IEC in KZN confirmed that they had processed 7 500 registrations by 11am and verified 69 000 voter’s details.
IEC Electoral Manager, Ntomb’futhi Masinga, said the province had been very fortunate to have great weather and things were going smoothly.
Some tents were stolen last night but were replaced by Saturday morning to allow for voter registration to take place smoothly.