Durban - Just 6 789 South Africans abroad have registered as voters under the new electoral provisions to cast their ballots overseas - from London to Hanoi in Vietnam, Montevideo in Uruguay, Rwanda’s capital Kigali, Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso and Asmara in Eritrea.
About 26 000 South Africans abroad had indicated their intentions to register, but the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) last week confirmed 6 789 had done so in terms of the Electoral Amendment Act.
The provisions - brought about by a 2009 Constitutional Court ruling on a Freedom Front Plus application on behalf of a teacher - require first-time voters to register in person with a valid ID, or a valid temporary identity certificate, and a valid South African passport at one of the country’s 124 high commissions, embassies or consulates in 108 countries.
South Africans who have registered at home, but will be overseas on May 7, may still cast a special vote for the National Assembly as before, if they indicated to the IEC they would do so, and made the necessary arrangements to cast their special votes on May 5 and 6.
South Africans abroad will vote on April 30, according to the IEC.
The ballots will be transported in secured and sealed bags to the IEC’s election house, where they will be reconciled and counted in front of party agents.
London, with 2 101 registered new voters, accounts for just under a third of this year’s overseas votes. A mere 280 have registered in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, with the majority (115) in the Big Apple.
In Havana, Cuba, 231 South Africans are expected to cast their ballots at the end of the month, 43 in Wellington, New Zealand, and six in Suva, Fiji.
Across China, in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, 134 South Africans have registered, while in Dubai the numbers stand at 415. There are 319 in Maseru, Lesotho, 149 in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, and 171 in Gaborone, Botswana.
One South African is registered in each of the towns of Kigali, Nouakchott, Mauritania; in Algiers, Algeria; and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Nigeria’s Lagos and Abjua, 31 South Africans have registered to vote.
The just under 7 000 overseas votes barely constitute a fifth of a National Assembly seat, but with most registered in London, neither the ANC nor DA missed the opportunity to pick up votes there.
Early last month ANC deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, launched her party’s election manifesto there