SA expats voting: IEC Bill adopted amid DA court bid

The National Assembly on Thursday adopted the Electoral Amendment Bill amid a Democratic Alliance court bid to have it rewritten to secure a provincial vote for South Africans living abroad.

The Bill, which gives expatriates the right to vote for the National Assembly only, was approved by all parties except the official opposition.

The party found itself accused of attempted "vote-rigging" by Deputy Home Affairs Minister Fatima Chohan. She said it was common knowledge that the DA was lobbying all its supporters abroad to cast provincial votes in Gauteng in the 2014 elections should the court case succeed.

"It creates huge opportunities to skew the outcome of the provincial election. In plain language this is called vote-rigging," she said.

The DA's Masizole Mnqasela insisted that by the Bill was disenfranchising expatriates.


"The DA believes that there should be no restraints whatsoever on the ability of citizens to exercise their right to vote. The Bill undermines democracy and the fundamental right to vote as enshrined in the Constitution," he said.

Mnqasela caused a stir in the portfolio committee on home affairs where the Bill was finalised this week, by suggesting that if the DA's proposals were adopted, the party would drop its court challenge.

Common practice
This earned a stern rebuke from the Congress of the People's Graham McIntosh, who repeated his view on Thursday that the DA "was holding pistols to the head of Parliament" by turning to the Western Cape High Court to have its way with legislation.

ANC MP Andre Gaum rubbished the DA's contention that it was common practice to allow expatriates to vote in provincial elections, saying it was precisely not the case from Angola to Australia and from Botswana to the United Kingdom.

Apart from international practice going against the DA's argument, he said, it would create a logistical nightmare to send provincial ballots back to voting districts in South Africa. This would undermine the integrity of the elections as the Independent Electoral Commission would be forced to rely on external transport services.

The Bill gives effect to a successful application brought by the Freedom Front Plus (FPP) in the Constitutional Court on the eve of the 2009 elections to secure South Africans abroad the right to vote for the National Assembly.

But in Thursday's debate on the legislation, the FFP's Corné Mulder said his party could not side with the DA's position that provincial voting rights should be added and believed its court bid was doomed.

"You know very well it is not going to happen. It is extremely opportunistic. You want to play for votes," he said.

"For once in your life be realistic."

The IEC has been anxious for the Bill to be passed to give it time to process regulations stemming from it and prepare for the elections, expected to be held in April or May. – Sapa

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Eusebius McKaiser: Reject the dichotomy of political horrors

Senekal shows us that we must make a stand against the loud voice of the populist EFF and racist rightwingers

Under Mbali Ntuli the DA would offer South Africans a new political home

The KwaZulu-Natal MPL, who is running against John Steenhuisen for the post as party leader, embodies the hopes and dreams of the majority of citizens

Calling South African conservatives…

We’ve tried leftism for long enough and what we have to show for it is corruption and mismanagement, when what we need is jobs and education. Is it time to try out a Mashaba-esque version of right-wing politics?

ANC’s ‘moral crisis’ will foil W Cape hope

Former premier Ebrahim Rasool says voters will abandon the party until corruption is arrested

Eusebius McKaiser: The DA’s next leader should have a diverse political toolkit

But in the battle of John and Mbali, the way things are going, the party will crucify the better option

Mmusi Maimane doesn’t want DA’s political ‘superstars’

The leader of the new One South Africa Movement says his former party has set itself on a course away from multiracialism after its recent policy conference
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Hawks swoop down with more arrests in R1.4-billion corruption blitz

The spate of arrests for corruption continues apace in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

The aid worker allegedly called his security guard a ‘slave’

Agrizzi too ill to be treated at Bara?

The alleged crook’s “health emergency” — if that is what it is — shows up the flaws, either in our health system or in our leadership as a whole

SANDF hid R200m expenditure on ‘Covid’ drug it can’t use

Military health officials are puzzled by the defence department importing a drug that has not been approved for treating coronavirus symptoms from Cuba
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday