For the first time in history, South Africans living or travelling abroad were able to vote in this year’s general elections. The decision to allow all South Africa to vote was made after the cabinet approved the Electoral Amendment Bill on 19 April 2013. This gave all South Africans living abroad the right to register and vote from where they are, in the national elections.
On Wednesday, 26 April 2014, more than 26000 SA expatriates cast their votes for this year’s national general elections. Live Magazine SA engaged some of these individuals who were happy to share their stories, feelings and emotions with us.
The first person that we spoke to was Mohammed Ziyad Hassen from Rynsoord in Benoni. He works for Al Jazeera in Doha and has been there for four years. He had this to say, “In every other election that I’ve participated in, I voted for the ANC. This time however, I spoilt my ballot with the words #Sidikiwe, in support with Ronnie Kasrills and other ANC stalwarts in calling for change and transformation within the ANC. South Africa’s future is directly linked to the future of the ANC. For the country to be successful, we need change from within the ANC.”
Asked about his decision to spoil his ballot and his understanding of the #Sidikiwe campaign, Hassen said, “Essentially, the #Sidikiwe campaign that was launched by Ronnie Kasrils and other ANC members are encouraging people to articulate their dissatisfaction with the ANC through the ballot. This is done either through spoiling the ballot or voting for another party. Since ANC members are taking the lead in this initiative, it highlights that the party requires change in policy, leadership and direction. This call comes within party and branch structures. The campaign appeals to me because I feel that the future of South Africa is intertwined with the future of the ANC. It’s unlikely that any other political party will defeat the ANC in elections. Therefore, it’s critical to demand real leadership from the ANC [which is a] political movement with a long and rich history that has given SA guidance and direction when most needed. Despite 20 years of freedom, a majority of the country live in terrible conditions and development of their lives and access to basic rights has not occurred. However, at this point in time there is rampant corruption and cronyism and a leadership that has failed to lead. The perception and feeling is that senior ANC officials are mired in corruption and scandal rather than representing the needs of the people”.
The second one is Nondumiso Ayanda Mwelase from Ladysmith in KwaZulu Natal, who is currently studying at Mandarin in Taiwan. ” I voted 12 hours (Wednesday). My very first and I am glad that I did though I’m not in South Africa,” said the born free.
Leannie Wessels who’s currently in Taiwan said, ” I’m still South African. A work permit or residency doesn’t change that. I am glad that we finally got the opportunity to vote abroad. So many other countries have done it for many years. I’m doing it for my family and friends in SA.”
Nontatu Skolo from Kat-Kop in Eastern Cape, who’s in Hanoi, Vietnam is the South African Deputy Ambassador to Vietnam. “Sure! Ndivotile (I voted). That is what Tata Mandela fought for. Vote on 7 May to keep our democracy alive and peaceful.”
The final votes were cast in Los Angeles where polls closed at 6am South African time on Thursday. “Votes cast at 116 South African missions are now being couriered in secure bags back to the Election House in Centurion where they will be reconciled against the list of voters who successfully notified the Chief Electoral Officer of their intention to vote outside the Republic. The ballot papers will then be set aside in ballot boxes and securely stored until local voting stations close and the counting of all ballot papers starts at 9pm on 7 May. The votes from all international voting stations will be combined into a single international voting district,” IEC said in a statement.
The next round of elections began on Monday, 5 May, with the special votes – these are people who will not be able to vote on 7 May due to work, or pregnancy, elderly people and people who are not feeling well. Registration for the special have since closed. “Election officials will on Monday and Tuesday visit 295 731 voters in their homes, retirement centres, hospitals and health care facilities and other places of residence throughout the country to allow them to cast their ballots in the national election. Of these 292 510 will also cast a provincial ballot. In addition, 90 698 voters also successfully applied to cast a special ballot on Monday or Tuesday at the voting station where they are registered. This brings to 386 429 the total number of voters who have been approved to cast a special vote.” IEC said.
The story of #Elections2014 continues. Stick with #LiveVIPZA and we’ll give you analysis, debates, comments, polls and all you need to make it through the all-important task of VOTING during the 2014 elections.
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