6 May 2014
Former president Thabo Mbeki was among the South Africans who cast their special votes on Tuesday.
Mbeki was due to leave for Abuja, Nigeria later in the day to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa summit.
“I was very glad that the IEC could agree that I could do a special vote because this afternoon I leave to Nigeria for the World Economic Forum,” Mbeki said after casting his vote at his home in Johannesburg. “Tomorrow I will address [delegates at the WEF meeting] on illicit capital outflows from the continent. So I was very happy to have this arrangement.”
Before casting his vote, two Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials could be heard explaining the process to Mbeki before marking his thumb with ink, in full view of political party observers and Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau.
Asked who he voted for, the jolly former president said: “You are taking chances … I voted for you!” He said the question of who to vote for was challenging and needed an intelligent decision.
“But still a choice has to be made … there is a very long list of parties, some of whom I have never heard of. But I think it is a good demonstration of the interest the country has in who should govern. So I think all of us need to go vote and take a decision of which party should govern South Africa.”
His message to South Africans for Wednesday elections was: “Go out and vote.”
He said there are many outstanding heroes and heroines, like Nelson Mandela, who were in the struggle, to whom South Africans had an obligation. “We should always defend the rights that they fought for us to enjoy. We have an obligation to those thousands who died for this freedom.”
Turning to his trip to Nigeria, Mbeki said last month’s kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls was painful, adding that it was important that they should be returned home to their parents.
“I believe we have to help solve the problem. We should not run away from the Nigerians because they are having problems, but I think we should be with them.”
About 200 girls from the Chibok community in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno State were abducted in April. The militant group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the act and threatened to sell the girls.
The country has also suffered two bomb blasts in the last two weeks, which claimed dozens of lives.