30 April 2014
South Africans living and working as far afield as London, Dubai, Canberra, Kinshasa, New York, Doha, Dublin and Khartoum turned out in numbers to cast their votes in the country’s fifth democratic elections on Wednesday.
Overseas votes began at the South African High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand at 7am local time on Wednesday (9pm on Tuesday in South African time) and will end in Los Angeles in the US at 9pm (6am on Thursday in South African time). Back in South Africa, voters registered for a special vote will cast their vote on 5 and 6 May. The rest of the country heads for the polls on 7 May.
In London’s Trafalgar Square, thousands of South Africans queued in the sun to wait their turn to vote at the country’s busiest overseas voting station. There are over 9 000 registered voters in London, out of approximately 26 000 registered overseas voters in total.
On social media, voters posted comments, photos and “selfies”, mostly conveying their excitement at the occasion. Here are a selection of comments from readers of News24, which ran a live updates page on the day:
Munene Khoza (London): “Thirty minutes before they even open the doors and we’re queued well into Trafalgar Square. Our vote is our voice. TOO excited!”
Craig Munn (Hungary) said “I voted from Budapest, Hungary this morning. The process was smooth and well managed. What a feeling!”
Sue-Ellen Hilgemann (Abu Dhabi): “… voted at the SA embassy in Abu Dhabi this morning. Very proud and exciting moment … Waiting time was only about 1 hour and the atmosphere was great!”
Darren (Thailand): “I went to vote at the embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. The experience was smooth as silk. They even prepared a few snacks and drinks, from back home, for all voters to enjoy. We also got to meet the Ambassador who is a lovely person. I feel proud and happy to have had this opportunity!”
Remerta Basson (The Netherlands): “It was a bit of an effort travelling from Amsterdam to the embassy in The Hague and taking time off from work, but I have casted my vote today. The IEC personnel were very friendly, it was great seeing so many other South Africans – I am definitely feeling proudly South African and homesick today!”
Not everyone was happy with the voting arrangements, however, as some of the comments made to News24 reflected:
Andre Johann Nel (Azerbaijan): “We are living in Baku, Azerbaijan and are also unable to vote. There is no South African embassy and we were told that we need to travel to Ankara in Turkey.”
Simson Moller (Australia): “I just want to say that I think it’s terribly unfair that they only have a voting and registration station in Canberra.”