I referred to the Richter case previously in my blog and on 12 March 2009 the Constitutional Court delivered its opinion, agreeing that South Africans abroad, who wish to vote, should be entitled to vote. It was good to see that it was unanimous decision and that they have given South Africans residing abroad some time to register, but sadly only until 27 March or so. It really gives them less than two weeks to run along to the local Embassy and vote and I think that the vast majority of them are not going to be able to do so in time. If I were advising the DA, and to benefit from this, I would have a major campaign over Facebook, and the Internet, to get those registrations going right now but whether they do or not, remains to be seen and I don’t think you will get high numbers voting when you only have two weeks to register right now, but I do think it is essential for all of those people, who live overseas and most probably do want to come back here one day to feel a part of the process.
To try and deprive them of their rights on the basis that it would be too difficult and expensive is simply a disgraceful argument in the first place. There is also of course the application jointly of Mr Kwame Moloko and 11 others, who is a chartered accountant currently practicing in Canada, who also wanted to vote. O’Regan J said, as part of her decision, “… We now live in a global economy which provides opportunities to South African citizens and citizens from other countries to study and work in countries other than their own. The experience that they gain will enrich our society when they return, and will no doubt enrich, too, a sense of shared global citizenship … To the extent that citizens engage in such pursuits want to take the trouble to participate in elections while abroad, it is an expression both of their continued commitment to our country and their civic mindedness from which our democracy will benefit.” The necessary forms to register can be found on the Electoral Commission’s website at www.elections.org.za.