UAE: Hundreds of South Africans turn up to vote from 11,000 kms away

General elections will be held in South Africa on May 29 to elect the National Assembly


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Mon 20 May 2024, 7:25 PM

Last updated: Mon 20 May 2024, 10:36 PM

Hundreds of South Africans turned up in Dubai and Abu Dhabi on Saturday, May 18, to remotely vote in the country’s national elections. For many, it was a sign of hope for a change.

Dominique Vuyiswa Jackson was one of them. “It is an important situation in my country and I felt like I had to contribute in whatever way I can,” she said. “I think a lot of overseas voters thought the same because there were hundreds of people in line.”

Dominique Vuyiswa Jackson
Dominique Vuyiswa Jackson

General elections will be held in South Africa on May 29, 2024, to elect the National Assembly. This will be the seventh time that elections will be held since the end of apartheid in 1994. For the last 30 years, the African National Congress has been in power but according to pundits, the upcoming elections could end their legacy.

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Lawyer Andrita Maharaj, said she also voted for change. “I care deeply about South Africa and I do hope that we can get the change that we need, especially for our loved ones who still reside in the country,” she said. “My expectations are that I'm hopeful for change for a better South Africa.”


Her compatriot Al-Kabeer, who hails from Durban in South Africa, agreed. “South Africa is an absolutely beautiful country and due to the corruption, we have seen the nation deteriorate with the current ruling party,” he said. “I want to see change in our country so that it can be beautiful once again and safe.”

Al-Kabeer with his family
Al-Kabeer with his family

First time voting

By law, South African citizens can only vote from abroad on the date specified in the election timetable, which is typically 10 days before voting day inside the country.

For 20-year-old Sarah Ebrahim, it was the first elections since she turned 18 and she knew she wanted to vote. “I have been following politics in the country since the beginning of this year because I wanted to make an informed decision,” she said. “I believe that voting the right party in will go a long way in leading the country in the right direction.”

Sarah Ebrahim
Sarah Ebrahim

Sarah, who voted alone, said her family will travel back to South Africa next week. “They had not registered for overseas voting so they will go back to our hometown to vote in the May 19 elections,” she said. “It is an important thing for us. We all want to make sure that we do the right thing and exercise our right to vote.”

Simple and effective process

For Andrita, it was her first time voting in the country. “I moved to Dubai last year and I was very impressed with how quick and efficient the voting process here was,” she said. “Once I reached the consulate, the process of standing in the queue, presenting my identity document, receiving the ballot to vote, actually voting and placing my ballot in the voting box took me just 17 minutes.

Al-Kabeer, who arrived in the UAE in 2021 and works as an operations and logistics supervisor for an e-commerce business, said his experience with voting was also seamless. “It was very easy and simple,” he said. “We had updates every minute as there was a Whatsapp group which gave us details about the queue and the time it took to vote. I decided to go a bit later, as I had my 7-year-old son with me. When we arrived, they moved us to the front of the line as the elderly, pregnant and families with kids were given priority. It was the most easiest process in place.”

However, Dominique who arrived at 7.45am at the polling station said she waited almost 1.5 hours to cast her vote. “In the morning, the queue was very long,” she said. “I think most people wanted to get it done first thing in the morning.”


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