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'My vote is important just like any other'

By unknown | Feb 27, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Jace Nair, chief executive of the KwaZulu-Natal Blind and Deaf Society, relies on his wife to help him cast his vote.

"I trust her to put the cross exactly where I want her to. I have confidence that with her my vote remains a secret," he said.

But he wants systems to be made available for the 120000 blind people in the province to cast their votes securely and in confidence like any other citizen.

"My vote is important, just like any other vote, and that is exactly why I always vote, in order to have a say in what happens in the country that I live in."

So he longs for the day when South Africa will upgrade its voting system for the blind to vote "in secret and with confidence".

The society runs a school for the blind. Nair's students are concerned about whether they will be provided with ballots in Braille, the system of raised dots the blind use to read.

Many first-time voters are uncomfortable voting under the watchful eye of a family member.

"The previous elections were conducted very well," Nair said.

"The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) conducted training at our centres and others countrywide, but this time around no training has been offered to us yet it's only about six weeks before the election.

Siyabonga Vilakazi, 28, is a student who lost his vision in 2006 after a car crash. This year he will vote for the first time as a blind man.

"My brother accompanied me to my polling station to register. I'm not sure about taking him to help me vote. We have different views about the political parties that we support. I do not trust him to put the cross where I tell him to," said Vilakazi.

Mawethu Mosery, the IEC's spokesman in KwaZulu-Natal, says the blind have several options that include asking a trusted relative or a presiding officer to help them cast their vote.


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