SA expat voters approved

2009-04-02 00:00

In a victory for opposition parties, the Independent Electoral Commission has approved a total of 16 300 applications for special votes for South Africans abroad.

The IEC released these figures at a meeting of a multi-party liaison committee this week. A total of 7 460 people in London will cast their votes in the poll, while 1 228 will vote in Canberra and 889 in Dubai. Smaller numbers of people will vote at other voting points overseas.

This follows a decision by the Constitutional Court last month that registered voters living overseas can vote for the National Assembly in this month’s poll.

The decision followed an application to the Pretoria High Court by the Freedom Front Plus on behalf of a Pretoria school teacher working in the United Kingdom, and representation by the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Democratic Alliance, the A-Party (a lobby group) and an independent group of South Africans living overseas.

The Pretoria High Court found certain provisions of the country’s Electoral Act unconstitutional and therefore invalid, and the judgment was sent to the Constitutional Court.

In a statement yesterday, Freedom Front Member of Parliament Willie Spies, who also acted as lawyer on behalf of the FF Plus, said the party is disappointed that thousands of South Africans who live in cities such as Perth, Sydney and Auckland will not be able to vote.

“This is due to the long distances to the capital cities where embassies and consulates are situated. The department of Foreign Affairs was not able to equip all its missions across the globe as voting points. Cities such as Perth, Sydney and Auckland only have honorary consulates and not fully accredited South African consulates,” Spies said.

He added that the FF Plus will, in the new parliamentary term, intensify their campaign to make it easier for South Africans all over the world to cast their votes.

“Our expectation is that the overseas votes will, in future, play a bigger role in the election results,” Spies said.

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