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Last modified: 21 May 2018
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Kouga helps fishermen register to vote

17 May 2018

Fishermen from Kouga had an opportunity to register as voters, some for the first time, during an outreach done by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Kouga Municipality.

The special registration took place at the Pellsrus Community Hall on Tuesday and targeted fishermen only.

The programme came about after engagements between the Jeffreys Bay Fishers’ Forum and the municipality’s Local Economic Development department.

Planning, Development and Tourism Portfolio Councillor Bryan Dhludhlu said fishermen raised a number of issues that affected them in their trade in meetings that included the municipality and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“One of the challenges that stood out was that the fishermen are out at sea when it’s open voter registration and sometimes during elections.

“We took the matter up with the IEC and we liaised with the Fishers’ Forum for a suitable date to reach out to them. We are glad that the commission was willing to go this extra mile to ensure that the fishermen were registered,” he said.

Dhludhlu said most pleasing was that the fishermen would, like other citizens, enjoy the basic right of being a registered voter, with more negotiations to be held with industry role players for the fishermen to be on the mainland during the elections for them to cast their votes.

Chairman of the Fishers’ Forum, Zakhele Ngaleka, said they were grateful for the intervention and praised the local authority for being a responsive government.

“Yes, we have many challenges and we continue to work with the relevant government spheres on those, but this is without a doubt a major breakthrough.

“We always feel like outcasts as we also want to participate in choosing the people who must lead our country and those who make laws that ultimately affect our daily lives,” said Ngaleka.

He said his members and colleagues understood the importance of this milestone as some of them would be first-time registered voters despite having been of voting age for many years.