Afrikaner: Election Could Be Stopped
COPE [Congress of the People] may take legal action to stop the April 22  elections if expatriates living abroad are prevented from voting by government’s inability to process their votes.
This emerged in an exclusive interview given to SATimesonline.com in London by Congress of the People’s president Mosiuoa Lekota.
Lekota suggested they could join any legal action taken by the Freedom Front Plus if the government ignores a Constitutional Court ruling to allow expatriates to vote.
Lekota said he was confident that Concourt would this week [March 2009] give South Africans living abroad the right to vote.
In anticipation of this, he said Cope would be prepared to take the Independent Electoral Commission or government to court if the State tried to argue it couldn’t cater for the expatriate voters.
“Talks are in an advanced stage to interdict the government from proceeding with the election should they find any excuse not to include South Africans living abroad to vote,” he said.
But yesterday [2 March 2009] both FF+ and Cope denied any knowledge of the intended interdict.
FF+ leader Pieter Mulder said: “Cope has not had any talks with us. I am not aware of what he is talking about.”
And Cope’s national organiser Mluleki George said they had never discussed stopping the elections. “Maybe he was just expressing his views as an individual. We are not in constant contact with Freedom Front.”
Lekota could not be reached for comment last night [2 March 2009] as his phone was on voicemail.
In the interview last Friday [27 February 2009] Lekota said the ruling ANC had stripped South Africans living and working abroad of their right to vote when they passed the Electoral Act shortly after the first democratic election in 1994. “It is clear that this Act is in contravention of the Constitution, which enshrines every citizen’s – including prisoners’ – right to vote.”
FF+ asked the high court to instruct government to allow expatriates to vote, and the Pretoria bench found parts of the Electoral Act unconstitutional and referred the matter to the Constitutional Court . The matter will be argued in Concourt today [3 March 2009].
Last month [February 2009], Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa- Nqakula asked Concourt for permission to appeal against the Pretoria High Court’s ruling. In court papers, she said acting judge Piet Ebersohn erred in finding that parts of the Electoral Act and Electoral Regulations were unconstitutional because they allowed people on short trips and diplomatic personnel to vote but not other citizens living outside the country.
She also said government would most likely argue there would not be enough time to organise voting abroad.
If Concourt upholds the Pretoria High Court ruling, then South Africans living abroad who registered to vote in the 1994, 1999, and 2004 elections would be considered as registered voters.
Opposition parties have estimated there could be up to 500 000 South Africans registered to vote living in London alone. “These votes are important to us,” said Lekota, who predicted that Cope, in coalition with other opposition parties, could take control from the ANC in up to four provinces.