Mar 16, 2009

Afrikaner: Expatriates Prepare To Vote

Active ImageAll South Africans outside the country who have registered as voters will be able to vote.
Below is an article published by: IOL

When millions of South Africans go to the polls on April 22 [2009], a young schoolteacher with a special sense of pride will join the thousands queueing in the shadow of Horatio Nelson outside South Africa House in London to cast their ballot.

It was the 27-year-old Willem Richter's initial legal challenge which on Thursday [12 February 2009] led to the Constitutional Court ruling that people who had registered to vote would be allowed to do so.

It declared regulations that sought to deny them the right to vote to be invalid and inconsistent with the constitution.

A cabinet decision had scrapped the right of those overseas on holiday, on a business trip, at an international sporting event or at a tertiary institution to make their mark via a special vote.

Now, all South Africans outside the country who have registered as voters will be able to vote - but they must notify the Independent Electoral Commission of their intention before March 27 [2009].

The initial motion before the High Court was brought by Richter, who has been living in Britain for the past two years.

On Thursday [12 February 2009], he took a break from classes at the high school where he teaches in Surrey.

"I'm very, very happy. A lot of the South Africans I've met here will be happy, and throughout this thing there has been overwhelming support," said Richter,

"When you leave the country, you start to see what the international perception is and it makes you a lot more patriotic.

"I'm even more excited about voting this time round."

A member of the Freedom Front Plus, Richter holds a working-holiday visa. He plans to return to South Africa at the end of this year [2009].

Carrying the legal costs, the FF+ lodged the application against the ministers of home affairs and foreign affairs, as well as the IEC.

Richter was joined by Roy Tipper, the IFP and the DA. A further application to allow citizens living abroad to register was brought by Kwame Moloko, who lives in Canada.

This was refused because the matter was brought directly to the Constitutional Court, and because insufficient evidence was placed before the 11 judges.

Last month [February 2009], North Gauteng High Court Judge Piet Ebersohn ruled that section 33 of the Electoral Act and some of its regulations were invalid.

On Thursday [12 March 2009], Constitutional Court Justice Sandile Ngcobo said in his judgment:
"South Africa citizens who are abroad and are registered as voters will be allowed to vote. Those who are not registered will not (be able to vote)."

IEC chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula said: "We run an efficient system and I can assure South Africans we'll be able to pull it off."

About 5000 South Africans outside the country had already notified the IEC they intended to vote.