POLITICAL parties are divided over the number of Eastern Cape voters who registered for the 2014 elections at the weekend.
In a statement released late on Sunday, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) announced that more than 176 507 voters turned up at its 4 615 registration centres across the province.
It said the number increased from 67 507 on Saturday to more than 109 000 by 5pm on Sunday.
IEC provincial spokeswoman Pearl Ngoza was optimistic they would achieve the provincial target of 85% of the voting population.
The Eastern Cape had the highest number of registered voters in the country at 82.8%, she said.
Ngoza said information on the number of new voters, youth and areas with the highest turnouts would be available later in the week.
DA provincial leader Athol Trollip said the figures revealed that voters were keen to make their voices heard.
“We are very pleased. It’s a good sign which sends an unambiguous message to political parties, especially the governing party,” he said.
Trollip said the surge in the number of service delivery protests on the eve of the elections showed that the electorate understood the importance of their votes.
“In the past they would vote for the ANC and protest the next day,” he said.
He said not all unemployed youth registered as they were disillusioned with the governing party.
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa poured cold water on the figures, saying they were a drop in the ocean.
“It’s too low. We expected more than 200 000,” he said.
Holomisa said empty promises and lack of services had resulted in a high rate of voter apathy.
Most of the registrations took place in Tjoksville NU 29 in Nelson Mandela Bay (1 817), University of Fort Hare in Alice (843), Rhodes University in Grahamstown (594), Mount Ayliff (458) and Bizana (380). — firstname.lastname@example.org