The overwhelming majority of Limpopo’s eligible first-time voters have not registered with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for next year’s elections.
About 78.7 percent of youngsters between the ages of 18 and 19 don’t appear on the voters roll.
Provincial electoral officer Nkaro Mateta told the media on Wednesday that only 50 344 of the province’s 235 397 18-to-19-year-olds had registered.
Mateta said the IEC had registered 22 064 young people in that category during the past weekend’s registration drive.
Another 28 280 in the same age group were registered preveiosly during outreach programmes between July and this month.
Mateta expressed concern about the low turn-out of this group, which she said had been the commission’s prime target.
“The registration percentage of 21.3 remains the lowest for all age groups, and (this) presents an ongoing challenge for all South Africans to encourage a new generation of voters to participate as we celebrate our 20th anniversary of democracy,” said Mateta.
She said the province had registered 82 122 first-time voters of all ages.
“Their commitment to democracy has helped boost overall registration levels to almost 79.2 percent of eligible voters from 77 percent before the weekend.”
Mateta said Limpopo had 3 million eligible voters, 2.3 million of whom appeared on the voters roll before the registration weekend.
Of the province’s five districts, Vhembe had seen the highest turn-out, with 19 511 people registering.
Trailing behind was Mopani with 19 266 people.
Capricorn district and Sekhukhune follow, with 18 134 and 17 450 turning up to register.
The lowest turn-out was recorded in Waterberg, where 7 761 registered.
Thulamela municipality had the highest registration figures in past elections, but it has now lost this top spot.
“At a figure of 9 187, Polokwane recorded the highest figure of new registrations in the province, followed by Makhado with 8 792 and Thulamela taking third place with 7 627,” said Mateta.
Mookgophong recorded the lowest new registration figure – 326.
Malamulele residents, who recently went on a rampage to demand their own municipality separate from Thulamela, boycotted the IEC’s registration weekend.
The IEC had 109 registration stations in the area, but only 53 people arrived to register.
Mateta said some people had threatened residents on air at the community radio station to discourage registration.
IEC provincial manager Itumeleng Masenya said some of the people who made the threats phoned into the radio station, while others walked into the station’s studios to make the threats.
She said the IEC would take up with broadcasting regulator Icasa the alleged incitement and intimidation through the community radio station.
The IEC had also encountered disruptions in Tzaneen and Letaba.
“In some areas, people occupied our stations, demanding to speak to the mayor about service delivery issues,” said Mateta.
In another incident, road construction workers demanded that they get paid before IEC registrations took place.
“It looks like the contractor (had) disappeared with the money,” she said.