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‘I’ve played my part, Mzansi, over to you, my dear’ – #VoteSA

───   09:57 Thu, 23 May 2024

‘I’ve played my part, Mzansi, over to you, my dear’ – #VoteSA | News Article
South Africans abroad have set the tone for the rest of us to vote next week. Photo: X

“Our democracy needs you!”

South Africans voting abroad are true patriots, President Cyril Ramaphosa said after more than 70,000 South Africans voted at different South African missions across the world this past weekend. 

They have set the tone for the rest of South Africa to vote next week. “I’ve played my part, Mzansi, over to you my dear,” tweeted Tshepo Tshabalala after voting in London.

Voting abroad started on Friday in a few regions. Most voting took place in different parts of the globe on Saturday but continued in London on Sunday as there were well over 25,000 registered South Africans.

The mission in the British capital was the only voting station that remained open until 9 pm on Sunday (19/5) to cater for the more than 24,000 voters who were registered and approved to vote at that mission.

“It was a serious and important matter for us to make the effort to vote,” said Lieze Conroy from Melbourne, Australia. She and her husband, James, boarded a flight to Canberra to vote. 

“That’s the one thing most people can do, no matter how small – to be a responsible, positive and participating citizen. We still love South Africa and its people very much. By casting our votes, we at least, naively or not, still feel part of a wonderful country,” she said.

Scott James Naudé. Photo supplied

Scott James Naudé has an interesting story. He was born in Australia but has had South African citizenship since 2019 as his parents are South African.

Marli Putter and her husband, Herman, drove almost 700 km from Melbourne to Canberra to vote. 

“We only think of our family, who are still in South Africa, and we still try to do our part. It had been quite an emotional moment, your country always remains a part of your heart,” she said.

“I know of a few South Africans in Perth who would’ve loved to vote. However, [because of the distance]] it’s a struggle, and for larger families, it just becomes too difficult and expensive. I don’t blame them. Perth, for example, where a large number of South Africans live, is 3,700 km from Canberra. Driving was just not an option for them,” Conroy said.

The IEC confirmed that overall special voting abroad proceeded smoothly with no major incidents.

In The Hague, in the Netherlands, some South Africans queued for almost eight hours to vote. Photo supplied

“The commission expressed gratitude to all South Africans who cast special votes in missions around the world,” the IEC said on Sunday.

Around 78,000 citizens voted between 17 and 18 May at 111 South African missions worldwide.

“Appreciation is also due to voters who, in some instances, had to endure intemperate weather, wait in queues for extended periods, and travel significant distances. In many stations, a steady flow of voters was reported throughout the day with some missions closing two hours beyond their scheduled operating hours.

“Notwithstanding, voters still expressed gratitude on social media and other platforms for the seamless voting experience and level of service they received at stations,” the IEC said.

What next?

“The ballots may only be counted after the close of voting stations in the country on 29 May. Only then may the commission communicate definitively on turnout for the election,” the IEC said.

“All ballots cast and unused ballot papers from all the 111 missions will now be transported via a secure channel back to the country. The necessary verifications and counting of the ballots will take place in the presence of representatives of contestants and observers.”

With overseas voting completed, the Electoral Commission turns its attention to preparations for the in-country special voting which will take place two days before election day on May 27 and 28. There are 1.7 million approved special votes.

“About 653,000 of these are home visit special votes while just over a million are voting station special votes. In all, there is at least a single approved special vote in 22,626 of the total 23,292 network of voting stations,” the IEC said.

The IEC has re-emphasised the general principle that voters may only vote at a voting station at which they are not registered if they have pre-notified the commission. 

“With capturing yet to be completed, indications are that at least 387,000 voters have pre-notified the Commission of their intention to vote at another identified voting station. These voters will cast their ballots on 29 May,” the IEC said.

‘Imagine being stuck with the same cellphone for five years, especially one with limited features’

So here are our top reasons why you should vote:

1. Because you can!

You may take your right to vote and all other rights in our constitution for granted, but 25 years ago most of the people in our country were not allowed to vote. Many were arrested and jailed for demanding this most basic human right. Others were tortured and killed. Because of their sacrifice, today you can vote simply by presenting yourself at a voting station with your ID during a registration event that puts you on the voters' roll for life, and lets you vote in every future general and by-election in your area.

2. Elections have consequences

You have the power to decide on the quality of life you want for yourself and your community, and even future generations. Voting is your chance to stand up for the issues you care about. This is your life: take the time to help decide what's best. Voting – rather than just venting on social media or protesting – is the best way to make your voice heard and make a positive input on the issues that concern you.

3. Not voting is giving up your voice

Elections are decided by the people who go out and vote. If you don’t vote, someone else will decide for you. If you don’t vote you get stuck with other people’s choices – and you can’t even complain about it because you let it happen! By participating in the electoral process as a voter, you get a say in how things are done for the next five years. Your power is in your vote.

4. It's your money

You pay taxes (even when you buy a loaf of bread), but do you know how that money is being spent? Most people don’t. Voting is your chance to choose how your taxes are spent – such as funding social services, healthcare and schooling.

5. Democracy needs you!

Democracy only works if people participate. That sounds obvious but unless people actively participate in the process, democracy doesn't work. It takes constant renewal among citizens to make democracy flourish.

6. Voting is an opportunity for change

If you’re thinking that right now you’ve got better things to do with your time and you’ll vote next time, think again! Five years is a long time to be stuck with something you don't want or that doesn’t work. Just imagine what it would be like to be stuck with the same cellphone for five years, especially one with limited features. Just think how many cellphone upgrades you are going to get before you get the chance to upgrade your government!

7. Our generation knows best

Technology and connectivity mean that our generation is probably the best informed and equipped to vote in South Africa's history. Social media and the internet give us access to information that previous generations of voters didn’t have. You are becoming the experts ahead of your parents and grandparents. Use that expertise to make sure our country heads in the right direction!

Every citizen has the right to vote in South Africa’s elections and the responsibility to participate in making decisions for its future. It’s your democracy, own it!

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