African Expats Await Poll Results

DUBAI - South African expatriates in the UAE await the results of the parliamentary elections with bated breath, days after hundreds of them cast their ballot for the first time overseas.

By Preeti Kannan & Anwar Ahmad

Published: Thu 23 Apr 2009, 1:18 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Apr 2015, 1:22 PM

The anticipation of the results, to be declared tomorrow, is being overshadowed by a resounding call is for a ‘credible’ opposition by expatriates living here. “Only 1,000 expatriates voted at the Consulate and the Embassy in Abu Dhabi,” Yacoob Abba Omar told Khaleej Times on Tuesday, despite the fact that over 48,000 South Africans live in the UAE.  However, officials are optimistic that the turnout will be much larger next year.

This is for the first time that the expatriate community has been allowed to vote. Around 14,000 registered for the voting rights around the world of which 2,000 registered in the UAE, said Omar.  The expat South Africans cast their vote on April 15 and the ballot box was sent to South Africa the next day.  It will be opened today for counting,&said Omar.

“The African National Congress (ANC) will win the elections undoubtedly as they have the best policies on paper. But, I believe the Congress of the People (COPE) party adds great robustness to the democratic process in South Africa,” says Shehnaz Cassim, a South African expatriate, who voted for COPE on April 15 at the South African Consulate in Dubai.

“If it (COPE) becomes a formidable opposition, it will be a credible opposition. The current opposition party does not speak to majority of the South Africans. I didn’t give the ANC my vote as they become rather laid back and need to be shaken up,” Cassim adds.

“I want an efficient and effective governance. A government that will help the poor and deal with poverty, provide jobs to people and improve our health and education system. Unemployment in South Africa is a major problem, so the new government should take steps to deal with it. One way to address this would be to invite the international community to invest in South Africa,” said Dr More Chakane, a researcher who lives in Abu Dhabi.

Many observe that the battle this time is for the opposition rather than for the ruling power as the ANC is expected to be back in power.

They also unanimously agree that only a strong opposition would push the government to tackle soaring unemployment rates and crime – two major issues believed to hamper the rainbow nation’s development.

“I support COPE, a choice which is largely due to my lack of confidence in other parties. But I do see COPE as providing the most credible opposition, since it is a truly multiracial party,” says Theresa Mallinson, an expatriate in Dubai, who was unable to vote&this year.

“I’m disappointed that I left my identity book in South Africa and so I couldn’t vote. But I think it is a step forward that overseas voting was allowed for the first time since 1994,” adds Mallinson. “I voted for the African National Congress. I’m expecting them to deal effectively with the issue of crime and provide proper training for people in small cities and municipalities,” said Percy  Pilane.

South African  resident, Julek Szczawinski, hopes that ANC’s leader, Jacob Zuma, would indeed keep his promises and take the nation forward.

“If he wins, I hope he will do what he’s promised. Hopefully, there will be a strong Opposition this time as that is imperative for a democracy,” he said, adding that he hoped to vote the&next  time.

Agnes Nyamande-Pitso, South African Consul General, said that it was a positive step that South Africans had been able to vote for the elections&this  year. “It  was  a  short space of time between the decision to allow them to vote and the time to register and many did manage to turn up in a short time. It makes them feel part of the process and nothing else matters than feeling close to your country,” she added.

More news from