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EBC NOT CONSIDERING REGISTRATION EXTENSION

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MANZINI – As the voter registration date draws closer, the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) urges those who had decided not to partake, to reconsider.

The EBC, through its Communications Officer Mbonisi Bhembe, was sought to establish if an extension to the voter registration dates would be applied. The question emanated from the fact that at about 3pm yesterday, the EBC had updated that 414 848 people had registered to vote. From the registered voters, 223 149 were females while 191 700 were males and the remainder of 18 449 were people with disabilities. Given this figure and that the voter registration period is expected to end on Wednesday (June 14, 2023), Bhembe was sought to establish if the EBC would consider an extension. It is worth noting that according to the Central Statistics Department, from 2017, about 625 629 are expected to be above the age of 18 in the Kingdom of Eswatini. This translates to a shortfall of about 210 781 people from the current number of people who have registered. This figure consists of people who have passed on as well.

In response, Bhembe said they were targeting that all people who qualified to register should do so. He alluded to the statistics from the Central Statistics Department, of 625 629 people expected to be above the age of 18, which is minimum age for registration. The communications officer did not have a database of the number of people who had to register in order to vote in the upcoming elections; however, they had engaged the Central Statistics Department and were offered the aforementioned statistics from the 2017 national census. “It is upon this census that we seek to afford all these people an opportunity to vote. It is then upon them to decide to either register or not,” he said.

Analysing

Bhembe said the EBC could be judged by analysing if it had done its duties, which include duniversal suffrage (ensuring the right to vote for as many people who are bound by government’s laws as possible, as supported by the ‘one person, one vote’ principle). He said this also included that the EBC had to facilitate that every person who was expected to register and vote was given an opportunity to do so, through decentralising the service and communicate or market the general elections. Bhembe said if the discovery would be that the EBC had faltered in engaging in the above mentioned responsibilities, maybe then an extension would need to be considered. However, he said if the EBC had done all that was possible to execute its responsibilities, then it would mean the number of people who had registered were the ones who wanted to do so. “Those who would have not registered after we had done all this would be those who had not wanted to register. At the moment, those who want to vote should go and register as we have three days to go and those who have a stance not to partake (elections) to reconsider,” Bhembe said.

He said those who were not willing to partake should reconsider, as this was a democratic process. It is worth noting that the voter registration in 664 polling stations started on May 10, 2023 and shall end on Wednesday. It is done between 8am-4pm on a daily basis. Subsequently, it shall be the inspection of the voters register at chiefdoms shall start on June 22, 2023 and end on July 12, 2023. This shall also be between 8am-4pm. This will then be followed by a two-day candidate’s nomination from July 22-23, 2023 at nomination centres. The nominations shall be 9am-4pm. Thereon, the primary elections would be on August 26, 2023 at polling stations. They shall be between 7am-7pm and followed by campaigning from August 27 – September 27, 2023 at chiefdoms between 9am-4pm daily.  The secondary elections are set for September 29, 2023 between 7am – 7pm. It has been published in several instances that a number of groups were adamant that they would not partake in the general elections and encouraged their members to follow suit.

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