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Citizens abroad to get the right to vote


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Old 12-02-2009, 03:57 PM   #1
mcamp999
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Citizens abroad to get the right to vote

Yesterday the Pretoria High Court ruled that citizens living outside South Africa should be given the opportunity to vote in elections. Handing down judgment, Acting Judge Piet Ebersohn ruled that the current legislation infringed on the rights of South Africans living abroad.

Current rules, which only enfranchise residents and people who are temporarily absent from the country, infringe on the right of citizens who are living abroad to vote, Ebersohn said. The Independent Electoral Commission was also ordered to change its voting procedures so as to allow South Africans living abroad to vote.

Speaking outside the court yesterday, Freedom Front (FF) Plus spokesperson Willie Spies said the Constitutional Court could overrule the judgment.The application was brought on behalf of the FF Plus and expatriate teacher living in the UK Willem Richter, over the constitutionality of the Electoral Act, which prevents South Africans abroad from voting.

The FF Plus is set to file an application in the Pretoria High Court that aims at preventing President Kgalema Motlanthe from proclaiming the ballot date until the Constitutional Court has had time to consider the issue. According to the FF Plus, if the Constitutional Court agrees with Pretoria, voters living abroad will be able to vote in the upcoming election.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is encouraged by the Pretoria High Court ruling that the current Electoral Act infringes on the voting rights of South Africans living abroad.

“We are confident that our similar, but not identical application, which is due to be heard in the Cape High Court later this month, will also be successful,” said James Selfe, DA federal executive chair.

“In any event, both the Pretoria High Court judgment and ours will have to be referred to the Constitutional Court, since it is the constitutionality of the legislation in question which is ultimately at stake. Only at that stage will it be possible to determine which South Africans living abroad will be allowed to vote,” he said.
The South African High Commission stated that they are waiting to find out the implications of the verdict and will notify the community when there is clarity on the matter.
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Old 13-02-2009, 05:33 AM   #2
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I agree that expats must be allowed to vote under certain circumstances, one of which is that they do come back to their country of origin within a certain period and that they pay taxes there.

A blanket authorization for allowing all expats to vote would be unfair and would not necessarily benefit the rights of all citizens who are actively contributing to their country.

I am still a British citizen and so as such I am an expat, but I have been for the last 20 years and therefore would not even consider the option of voting in the UK.

I sincerely hope that those who wish to change such laws in South Africa, take into consideration these others factors before making a final decision.
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Old 14-02-2009, 12:36 PM   #3
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I hear what you are saying, but what about those who have left because they did not feel they could live under the present regime? If they vote and make a difference, conditions might then be created where they could return home!!

Or what about those who simply care for their country and see all of the crime etc. Surely they have the right to vote for something different as they often have family/friends still living there that their vote might influence the conditions for them.

Or what about thse who had to leave because reverse apartheid meant they could now not get a job?

Or what about those who intend retiring there one day, surely they could use there vote to influence change?

I know that if this goes through, I would be one of the first to register and cast my vote, but circumstances mean that I am unable to return for some considerable time even though both my wife and I would give anything to return now.
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Old 14-02-2009, 03:30 PM   #4
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Hi mcamp999,

I hear what you are saying and yes for South Africa, the problems it raises is actually very complex. There is no simple situation, however, it is also possible, that it will still require the term of another President before the healing necessary for true economical and social growth can take place.

The risk of course is that in the meantime a lot can go worse, however, eternal optimist that I am, I rather foresee positive changes in circles which may currently not be as yet visible because they are truly at grass roots, but they are already having positive ripple effects - which will enable all of the expats to return safely to their country, with opportunities for the younger generations.

Alas, for the older generations, it will be probably be too late for them to enjoy that new safe South Africa.

There is a lost generation here of all races, and for them, South Africa is not a good place to be now or in the future, since there is no place left for them. They are between the ages of 35-45 and 55-60 depending on race.

There is an emerging generation, all younger than 25, and many of them do not care about the past, race or about colour, they just want to get on with there lives and from that group, there are signs of some great potential for leaders amongst these young people.

Things are changing, too slowly for some, however, it takes at least two generations before the pains caused by war, hatred, repression and other forms of human cruelty to begin to heal.

The British and the French still dislike and mistrust each other and they have not fought each other for at least 400 years ;-)

If I had a magic wand to end all the pain in the world, I would gladly wave it today, and it is sad to know of all this suffering.

The only thing I can do is to heal people, one person at a time, or maybe touch a few more through my written words.

Know that there are many fellow South Africans, who are also doing what they can, one person at a time, and it is definitely spreading like a happy viral bug... but not on the front lines... in 18 months, the effects will be seen (actually in less...) watch the women and the kids.

Be blessed and remain hopeful.
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Old 15-02-2009, 10:52 AM   #5
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AA you are talking to an eternal optimist here, I believe in the country and feel that it is moving in the right direction, albeit slowly. What I was referring to was the statement that people who have left the country should therefore not vote, and I disagree. I feel that it is our duty to those who still live there to vote.

Interestingly, you mention that the country might need another term from the president in order to see the changes work, and I onder which presidency you are refering to?

Lastly, I do not believe that any country with a Government that has such a huge majority can be in a favourable position. You need a strong opposition to hold the government in power to account and to challenge it and that is why I believe this break away group, and giving the vote to expats can only be a positive step.
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Old 16-02-2009, 07:12 AM   #6
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extract from IOL

"It is my constitutional right to vote; so I am sure that the Constitutional Court will uphold the ruling," he said.

"I left the country to travel and broaden my horizons, but I am going to return, so I should vote."

He said that there were many South Africans living abroad who felt cheated at not being allowed to vote, especially those who intended to return.

"The perception that South Africans who leave the country are traitors needs to be abandoned. We are proud South Africans at heart who left to travel and earn money; this doesn't mean we are disloyal to our country."

Speaking about South Africa, Richter described his country as "utterly beautiful and peaceful".

Blog sites have been abuzz with South Africans venting their view on the controversial topic.

For example, the Facebook group "South African citizens abroad - your right to vote" has more than 3 000 members.

The comments posted are mainly from South Africans abroad who are aggrieved at not being allowed to vote.

Amy Shelve, who is living in Japan, said, "Many South Africans who are working in other countries reinvest in the South African economy.

"We have not jumped ship, as people like to say. Rather, we are playing an important role in the country's economy.

"We are gathering experience that will ultimately benefit South Africa when we return to the country."

A blogger on the News24 website said, "I am living in London at the moment and saw all the exciting campaigning going on here for the US elections.

"They were encouraging Americans working abroad to register and vote. I dream of the day we too will enjoy such a vibrant democracy."

Deserving

An anonymous blogger on the website constitutionallyspeaking.co.za said he was a proud South African who was working abroad temporarily to gain some life experience.

He believed that he should be afforded the right to vote because he intended to return home.

"I adore my country and miss it every day. I long for the day I will return. However, criminals get to vote and I don't? We all deserve the right to vote."

But not all are in favour of expatriates voting.

Nthatuwa, a blogger on the News24 website, said the idea of South Africans who live abroad voting in elections was ludicrous.

"It doesn't make sense for them to vote while overseas. If they really do intend to return, they can vote when they do so.

"If they are proud South Africans, like they claim, they should be here through the good and bad times, not just when it suits them."
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Old 16-02-2009, 05:30 PM   #7
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I have many South African friends who are currently abroad (mainly in the UK and OZ).

It makes no sense that they cannot vote since there was never any intention for them to stay away from SA indefinitely. I am frankly surprised that the UN or the Human Rights Commission have not intervened since, such a state ruling contrevenes democratic rights for the little I know about voting rights.

As regards long term expats, including someone like myself, I still question where our rights lie in terms of voting.

In fact, I am flabbergasted that people who have foreign visa's for limited period of time do not have voting rights and therefore my comments were not at all related to this category of people.

So in my naivety, I truly believed that this law concerned a minority group of long-term expats and therefore apologize for not reading up on it. I am still hoping that the ruling will be overturned again because a blanket ruling in any direction serves no one.

I am not sure, if that will be possible though.

My SA friends elsewhere in the world are also great people, looking to expand their knowledge, culture and experiences and not one of them has the intention of living anywhere else in the world for the rest of their lives.

South Africa has become my home, and yes there is so much more to be done before it truly becomes a place of freedom. The biggest changes need to actually be made within the ranks of the current ruling party, so if anyone can give me a hint on how to do that, I'll give it a bash from the grass roots up of course ;-)
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Old 16-02-2009, 05:31 PM   #8
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Oh and thanks Newroom for bringing those quotes "in my face" :-)
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Old 17-02-2009, 07:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aaliceinw View Post
Oh and thanks Newroom for bringing those quotes "in my face" :-)
You can always trust the newroom
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Old 17-02-2009, 08:24 PM   #10
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In South Africas first free and fair election were all South Africans living abroad not allowed to vote? I stand to correction, but think they were.

If so, have the goal posts not been moved?
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