Of 100,000 South African expats in UAE, less than 2,000 vote

Amanda Fisher
Filed on May 12, 2014

Across the board turnout overseas was low, and the votes only contributed about a one per cent share of the votes.

Almost 2,000 UAE-based South Africans took part in voting to power once again the incumbent African National Congress party in the first election since anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela’s death.

South African Ambassador Mpetjane Lekgoro told Khaleej Times that the fifth election since the fall of Apartheid in 1994 was also the first time overseas voters could register overseas, no longer needing to get registered at home first.

While the population of South Africans in the country was estimated to be 100,000, Lekgoro said only 2,000 people were registered in the UAE, and of those 80 per cent voted.

“Two elements are involved; one is the fair share of the 100,000 may not be voting people because of age, and two it might also be because people are mobile, people might have been in another place, or they might have been at home, or in other neighbouring countries. A number of things are at play.”

With 100 per cent of votes counted, the ANC took out the election with a majority 62.2 per cent of the vote — half a per cent less than it won the 1994 elections with.

Lekgoro said that across the board turnout overseas was low, and the votes only contributed about a one per cent share of the votes; however, the overseas votes were much more important than they might suggest.

“More than what the vote counts, who wins, what is at stake here is exercising your constitutional right, exercising your franchise as an adult as to who will rule.”

Speaking to UAE-based South Africans in the lead-up to the election, there was interest and enthusiasm about the ballot, as South Africa was still home. “South African expats in the UAE at one point in their lives return home, they can’t stay here forever. It’s important for them to have a say on what’s going on at home and they know it.”

Legkoro, himself a member of the ANC party and longtime political activist — as well as early member of ANC Youth League, during Apartheid years — said Mandela would be pleased with the election results, if he were alive to see them.

“Certainly this is an outcome that he would have wanted. I’m sure he, like other members of that party, believe they have the programme that will deliver a better future for the majority of the previously disadvantaged people … it’s a continuation of (Mandela’s) legacy, continuing from our 20-year record.

“I’m very confident that the ruling party is the capable party to do that now in South Africa.”

The comprehensive win, despite corruption allegations which have embroiled President Jacob Zuma and widespread service delivery protests, gave the government the mandate to rule, and enact plans detailed in a 2030 vision strategy, he said.

Lekgoro said it was important all South Africans continued to have a say in the future of their country. “I want the South African public in intervals of five years to express themselves (about) who should govern them and the legacy of Mandela is therefore extended … all governments must be based on the will of its people.”—

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