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All clear for expats to vote

2014-04-29 19:23

 Johannesburg - South African expatriates will be able to vote on Wednesday, the international relations department said.

"The department... is satisfied that all necessary arrangements have been made for South Africans living abroad to exercise their democratic right to vote in the 2014 general elections," spokesperson Clayson Monyela said in a statement.

Expatriates could vote provided they had applied for a special vote. Online applications were due within 15 days of the proclamation of the election, as per a joint statement issued by the department and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on 7 January.

"The department is satisfied that it has made the necessary information and infrastructure available for the IEC to carry out its constitutional mandate of managing the electoral process," Monyela said.

The international relations department had circulated the relevant information from the IEC regarding the vote to South Africa's foreign missions, which would in turn be passed on to South African citizens.

Earlier on Tuesday Monyela dismissed a report by The Times that voters living abroad would not be able to vote because of a government communication botch-up.

The newspaper reported there was a miscommunication attributed to the department and the IEC to tell expats they needed to complete a form if they wanted to vote.

‘A problem everywhere’

SA High Commissioner to Ghana, Jeanette Ndhlovu, reportedly said the error created a "problem everywhere".

"I've been in touch with my colleagues at other embassies and many other expats also failed to submit the VEC10 forms on time. It will not be possible for them to vote," she was quoted as saying.

Monyela said this was not true.

"Elections are run by an independent body, not by government... All the information related to the elections, whether it's here or abroad, is communicated by the IEC," he explained.

The IEC said in a statement on Tuesday that it had, in conjunction with the international relations department, run a communication campaign for expatriate voters.

The campaign included press releases issued in South Africa and by missions abroad, e-mails sent to heads of missions to be forwarded to South Africans registered abroad, and pamphlets and posters provided to South African missions for distribution to eligible voters.

In addition, advertisements were placed on Facebook, Google and popular South African websites, such as News24, reminding those who planned to vote abroad that they needed to complete and submit a special vote application form before 12 March.

The IEC said that more than 26 400 people had successfully applied to cast their ballots abroad.

Expatriates in Auckland, New Zealand, would be the first to vote starting from 21:00 South African time on Tuesday.

London had the highest number of expatriate voters at 9 863, followed by Dubai with 1 539 registered voters.

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- SAPA
Read more on: iec  |  politics

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