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OVER 10 000 REGISTER FOR ELECTIONS IN TWO DAYS

MBABANE - Ngete Ngasala Nasakha Live Letfu!

The above words were spoken by a registered voter at Nkhanini yesterday after spending only two minutes to complete the elections registration process. Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) opened the polls on Wednesday May 10, 2023, marking the official start of the 2023 National Elections for the 12th Parliament. The commission revealed that over 10 000 people registered in the first two days of the registration process.
It is worth noting that in the first two days of the 2018 voter registration process almost 8 000 had registered and a majority of that number were males. 2018 elections reports reflect that Sundays recorded low registration figures throughout the period with the exception of the first cut-off date in June 17, 2018, where it was at its peak.

EBC Spokesperson Mbonisi Bhembe confirmed that over 10 000 had registered when the polls closed on Thursday May 11, 2023 to mark the end of the second day of registration. The registration process started off with teething problems on Wednesday, resulting to some polling station closing while others opened after more than five hours of the projected starting time. Despite the issues, more voters registered in the first two day this year than the last election year.

Growing

“Yes, it is true that over 10 000 people have already registered in the system and from the 10 000 people, there is over 1 000 people with disabilities that registered. We expect the numbers to continue growing by the end of next week,” Bhembe said yesterday. He further encouraged the entire populace to visit all the available voter registration centres and register for the election. He said the nation needs to understand that the power to vote was their right and no one was in a position to exercise that right for them. He said the commission was expecting more people to cascade to the nearest voting stations in the next weeks before registration closed in the next 33 days.

“It is difficult to divulge the numbers now, but what I can confirm is that the commission is expecting over 650 000 voters to have registered by the close of business on June 14 this year. If you are living with disabilities or need some clarifications, there are available officers at your convenience at the centres around the country,” said Bhembe. In 2018, the commission had projected to register 650 000 eligible voters, based on the latest population census. At the end of the registration period, a total of 547 426 voters were registered, which was almost 84 per cent of the eligible voter population. The 2018 statistics also showed a considerable increase by 132 722 (14 per cent) of registrants from the 414 704 (70 per cent) registrants in the 2013 National Election. It was reported that in 2018, a highest number of registrants was recorded for the youth between the ages 18 and 35 years with 297 451 (54 per cent) registered voters. The youth was followed by the adults (36 - 59 years) with 190 939 (35 per cent) registrants, and the senior citizens with ages from 60 years and above were 59 036 (11 per cent).

Registered

Notably, 98 per cent of the 2018 registrants registered using personal identification numbers (PIN) and the remaining two per cent registered through these supervision of competent witness which was a plus to the credibility of voters list. This year, EBC introduced more registration centres and methods to attract more voters. Centres would be placed in malls around the country and there were reports of door-to-door registration. According to a full calendar released by EBC, voter registration began on the May 10 and will end in June 14. Validation of the voters roll and transfers will be over a month’s period between June 22, 2023 and July 12, 2023. In July 22, 2023 nomination of candidates will begin until August 22, 2023.

Primary elections will start on August 22, 2023 with a special voting and run till September 27, 2023. Secondary elections will be in September 29, 2023. New parliamentarians are expected to be in office by the end of October this year. The 11th Parliament has yet been recalled by His Majesty King Mswati III; however, they according to the Constitution, the King could dissolve the August House in the next two months. Eswatini News visited some of voter’s registration polls, yesterday discovered that the activity was slow in the morning and only picked up late in the afternoon, when people started coming back from work. This publication also discovered that almost all the voters’ registration polls in Ezulwini and Lobamba were not abuzz with people.  

Some members of the public appealed to EBC to at least place banners which would help the voters locate the centres. However, the electorate along these areas visited, looked jovial as they registered for this year’s national elections. One of the already registered voters, who was found by the Eswatini News team at Nkhanini, Nkosinathi Victor Khumalo was happy to shows the SMS which he had received after completing the registration process which lasted for less than two minutes.

Supported

EBC has abolished the use of voter cards and replaced it with the use of national identification cards  (IDs) which is supported by an SMS confirmation. After registering, a voter receives an SMS as compared to waiting for a printout of the voter card. The use of the ID cards has reduced the time spent by voters in the registration booth to two minutes. The registration process was conducted through the online platform for the first time in the 2018 elections and more than 90 per cent of the data was transmitted to the central server in real-time. The use of the national ID eliminated duplication in real-time, when the system was registering online. It also has a user audit trail to track fraudulent registration.

Some of the EBC officials found on most of the sites said there were internet glitches here and there in the beginning of the registration on Wednesday. It was gathered that the machine that was used for the registration process declared some people who were born in 1949, dead. Other officials disclosed that some elderly people were declared under aged by the same machine in most areas. One of the official acknowledged that these glitches were caused by the slow internet; however, by the end of business yesterday, everything was running smooth in most of the registration centres.

Commissioned

The voter registration is the first stage of the electoral process and this stage is usually commissioned by His Majesty through a writ, specifying the dates of the entire election process. The voter’s register is validated through a process which leads to the production of a final voter’s roll before the nomination process begins. The voter registration process is guided by the Registration Act, 2013, which states that there should be a single country-wide form of identification for voter registration. Registration to vote is done in person and registrants are required to produce one of the following documents: national identity card, passport and birth certificate. In the absence of these, voters are registered with the assistance of a competent witness. However, the latter applies only when one registers at communities.