National

SA's expats vote for their half-seat rep

Sarah Evans, Verashni Pillay

The number of South Africans who registered to vote would probably yield half a parliamentary seat. But expats wasted no time casting their votes.

South Africa had 26 000 voters registered abroad for this year's national elections. (Gallo)

Hundreds of South African voters in England queued in Trafalgar Square to vote, in spite of a public transport strike that made travelling to the high commission in London difficult for many. In addition, voters had to travel long distances to vote, as they could only vote at South African territories, such high commissions, embassies and consulates.

The approximately 1 243 South Africans registered in Australia had to travel to Canberra to vote – a drive of at least seven hours from Melbourne.

But at many embassies, voters on social media described the mood as “exciting”, and “like a big reunion”.

Elated voters posted selfies showing long queues to the voting stations or inked thumbs.

Hitesh Patel, who lives in west London, tweeted: “Thought this was a massive bus queue in Trafalgar Square due to a #TubeStrike, but it was South Africans waiting to #VoteHomeSA!

In Dubai, the queue stretched nearly 100m long.

And early on Wednesday morning, the first South Africans to vote in Doha, Qatar, arrived at the polling station:

Yet the long queues are somewhat deceiving: only 26 000 voters are registered abroad – about half a parliamentary seat. And only a fraction of those are expected to vote as Wednesday is a working day. In Vancouver, Canada, many voters had to travel to Ottawa where the high commission is situated. It is a journey of over 4 800km between the cities.

The Independent Electoral Commission said overseas votes would be collected in secure, sealed bags and transported to South Africa for counting.

By midday on Wednesday, South Africans from as far afield as Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates had marked their ballots:


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