Tuesday, February 24, 2009

South African Home Affairs Minister to Appeal Electoral Ruling on Those Living Abroad

JOHANNESBURG 23 February 2009 Sapa


Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Monday asked the Constitutional Court for permission to appeal against the Pretoria High Court's ruling that South Africans living abroad have the right to vote, SABC news reported.

Acting Judge Piet Ebersohn ruled earlier this month that certain parts of the Electoral Act and Electoral Regulation were unconstitutional.

This was because they allowed people on short trips and diplomatic personnel to vote but not other citizens living outside the country.

The Freedom Front Plus which is behind the case is now asking the Constitutional Court to confirm the order.

In the notice to the court which Mapisa-Nqakula filed on Monday, she alleged that Ebersohn made mistakes in just about all his findings.

Among these was that the decision to disqualify certain classes of absent citizens from voting was political, and that only allowing certain people to vote was discrimination.

The minister also opposes the applications by other political
parties who want to join the case in support.

The Constitutional Court has set aside Wednesday and Friday next week to hear all the applications.

PRETORIA 23 February 2009 Sapa


South Africans living abroad will be able to cast their votes on April 15, the Independent Electorate Commission (IEC) said on Monday.

In a statement, the IEC's chief electoral officer Advocate Pansy Tlakula said South Africans abroad who qualify to vote will be able to cast their ballot at the country's missions abroad.

South Africans who will be temporarily abroad on election day, April 22, either on holiday, a business trip or studying abroad, must inform the IEC of their intention to vote.

They also need to do so if they wanted to cast special votes on April 20 or 21 at their voting districts before leaving the country.

"This they do by completing a VEC 10 form, which is available on the IEC website, and deliver the completed form to the IEC not later than midnight on February 27, 2009," said the commission.

Tlakula said that only certain categories of voters qualified to cast special votes.

The IEC said that election officials or members of security forces performing election duty and South Africans who were abroad during the election period, who had indicated their intention to vote prior to leaving, could apply and vote on April 20 and 21 between 9am and 5pm.

This was to be done at the presiding officer of the voting district where they have registered. President Kgalema Motlanthe proclaimed the elections on February 12 and the election timetable was published in the Government Gazette on February 16.

"After the promulgation of the date for the elections on February 12, 2009, the Commission approved an election timetable, which outlines the electoral processes until election day," she said.

The timetable gives time frames for among other things special votes.

South African citizens who have registered to vote and whose names appear on the voter's roll qualify for special votes if they are pregnant, not in the country because they are working for government abroad, or an election official.

Special votes are also available to people who are temporarily abroad while on holiday, on a business trip, attending a tertiary institution or participating in international sports events.

This does not apply to all South Africans who are overseas, as the Constitutional Court will only pronounce in March on a Pretoria High Court ruling that registered voters abroad should be given the right to vote.

According to the IEC, people who were pregnant or disabled could apply to their municipal electoral officer of the voting district where they are registered between April 1 and 14, from 9am to 5pm, to qualify for voting.

This is also the case if they were to be hospitalised in a different city.

"IEC officials will then visit such voters on April 20 and 21, 2009 at the place indicated on their application to enable them to cast their votes."

The form could be delivered by hand to the IEC offices in 260 Walker Street, Sunnyside, Pretoria. They can also be faxed to 012-428-5566 or 012-428-5279.

Voters who cast their ballots in South Africa will need to produce their green, bar-coded ID book or a valid temporary ID certificate.

South Africans voting at a mission abroad will be asked for their identity document and passport.

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