The South African Rainbow Alliance (SARA) has criticised the Electoral Commission (IEC) for being unable to carry out voter education drives on the lead up to the national and provincial elections.
SARA president Colleen Makhubele said voter education was as essential as voter registration and the registration of new political parties.
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People are clueless about voting
“We should all be worried that IEC has left voter education to be done by politicians on the desperate campaign trail. Perhaps it’s a blessing to have so many registered political parties because these parties have become an opportunistic vehicle for voter awareness and education as they go to different constituencies and communities: Where is the IEC?,” Makhubele said.
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According to Makhubele young people and some workers in different industries had no clue about how to register to vote.
“Having been on a campaign trail since November 2023, it is unbelievably sad to hear tertiary level students express ignorance on how to register to vote. It’s embarrassing that most black women have no interest in voting. Cashiers, waiters and service industry workers who work 15 hour shifts have no clue nor the time to go and queue to register to vote,” she said.
She said the service industry which contributes 40% of workforce has been blatantly or deliberately left out of the voter education process.
“There is no provision from IEC to assist the Retail workers with voter education and registration after their long working hours,” she said.
Is there a reason for poor voter education
Makhubele said the lack of voter education left concerns about the intentions of the IEC.
“Is there a deliberate effort to keep new voters ignorant for low voter turnout? Who benefits from this current status of fateful ignorance, apathy and nonchalance when it comes to important national issues,” Makhubele said.
Makhubele said the IEC should be held accountable for the exclusion of people in the voter education process.
“This should be criminal that millions of young and especially black female South Africans are excluded from democratic participation because of long working hours. These hardworking men and women who desperately need a change are not aware of the online registration process nor do they have the data to register using online [means],” Makhubele said.