Independent Electoral Commission chairwoman Pansy Tlakula. Picture: THE TIMES
Independent Electoral Commission chairwoman Pansy Tlakula. Picture: THE TIMES

ABOUT 1-million, or slightly more than 43%, of the 2.5-million South Africans who registered to take part in the 2014 polls at the weekend were first-time voters, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said on Tuesday.

The IEC aims to add about 2-million first-time voters to the roll by the time voting starts in 2014 and has reached only half of this during its first registration drive.

Potential voters will now have to register at IEC centres at municipal offices across the country. It is likely another voter registration weekend will be held, but the IEC could not confirm this.

IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula said while the number of voters between the ages of 18 and 19 had almost tripled from 167,535 to 434,370, it was still a challenge to get young voters to the polls. This age group represents only 22.6% of all those registering to vote.

"They did not quite stay away but we would like to have more in that age band," said Ms Tlakula, briefing the media on the registration weekend at Election House in Centurion.

The highest number of voters registered was in KwaZulu-Natal, at 620,864, and the second-highest was in Gauteng, at 572,395.

The IEC faced some challenges in areas ridden with social protests, including Bekkersdal on Gauteng’s West Rand. However, Ms Tlakula said by Sunday afternoon voter registration in the Bekkersdal area had increased.

"No matter what challenges (were) faced in those areas, communities came to the party," she said.