Expats win vote

Anna Majavu and Sapa

Anna Majavu and Sapa

The Independent Electoral Commission might have to make arrangements so that South Africans living abroad can vote in this year's general election.

This follows a ruling by the Pretoria high court yesterday that the current legislation infringed on the rights of South Africans living abroad to vote.

The ruling was in favour of an application by the Freedom Front Plus on behalf of a South African school teacher living in the United Kingdom who would not be able to vote in terms of the Electoral Act.

Only certain groups, including government employees and people on holiday and business trips, could have arrangements made for special votes.

Speaking outside the court, Freedom Front Plus spokesman Willie Spies said the Constitutional Court could still overrule the judgment.

Spies said his party would file an application in the Pretoria high court asking that the proclamation of the voting day be postponed to allow the Constitutional Court ample time to consider the matter.

Last month portfolio committee on home affairs head Patrick Chauke argued that it was not cost effective for the IEC to set up voting stations overseas.

"In the last elections, it cost over R30million to set up overseas voting stations, but the turnout was less than 200 people."

The other 1379 overseas South Africans who voted were diplomatic staff, Chauke said.

"From Parliament's point of view, we won't encourage this court case while we still have thousands of people in rural areas who cannot get to the voting stations," he said.