'KHUTSONG CAN GO BACK TO GAUTENG'

Khutsong residents will be reintegrated into the Gauteng Province if they want to, says Provincial and Local Government Minister Sicelo Shiceka.

Khutsong residents will be reintegrated into the Gauteng Province if they want to, says Provincial and Local Government Minister Sicelo Shiceka.

"If the majority of people of Merafong in general (and) Khutsong in particular want to come to Gauteng that is going to happen," Shiceka told journalists in Pretoria yesterday.

He was speaking after the countrywide Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) voter registration over the weekend.

In an interview with Sowetan on Friday Shiceka said the government had "made a mistake to forcibly incorporate Khutsong into North West".

"There is nothing wrong with the government apologising if we made a mistake," Shiceka said during the interview.

Yesterday Shiceka said he had held a meeting with IEC chairman Brigalia Bam, during which the issue of cross-boundary areas - including Khutsong - under North West, Eastern Cape and Limpopo were discussed.

"We're going to engage the communities ... we want to find lasting solutions to the issues of boundaries to ensure that the people are settled where they want to be," he said.

Bam said the IEC was pleased that in spite of the problems in these areas, voter registration went ahead, though no statistics were available yet showing how many people had registered.

"We were able to register people over the weekend," Bam said.

"Though their problems over demarcation have not been resolved, they were willing to register and participate in the coming elections."

She said she was "very delighted" that the minister had decided that the government would interact with these communities.

"We don't want to exclude any South African from participating in the elections," Bam said.

"Elections are an important national event and we want people to take advantage of it."

She said the minister and government's decision to engage communities could help curb the "temptation" of voters to stay away from the polls.

Asked how reintegration would be achieved, Shiceka said there would be engagement between the ministry and executive.

He said a memo would be presented to cabinet to enable the government to take a decision on the matter.

He said that two bills were needed, which involved amending the Constitution, and the department had to draft the law amending the Constitution.

He could not say whether the bills would be passed before the elections

"That is what we want, if possible, but that is dependent on Parliament." he said. - Sapa

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