Praise for zeal of SA expats abroad

South Africans living abroad played an important role in voting in the general election, the government has said.

South Africans living abroad played an important role in voting in the general election, the government has said.

Government spokesperson Themba Maseko said this week that it was significant that more than 16000 South Africans living abroad had voted.

Maseko said that by voting they had strengthened their bond with their compatriots at home and given substance to the Constitutional Court ruling that South Africans abroad had the right to vote.

"The enthusiasm of those who queued outside South Africa House in London throughout the day bodes well for creating the atmosphere for more South Africans to return and make a contribution through deploying their skills in nation building or creating more jobs," he added.

More than 9000 overseas votes had been counted at the IEC's results centre in Pretoria by Thursday afternoon, with the DA winning 7581 of the votes, followed by Cope with 918 votes and the ANC with 673 votes.

DA leader Helen Zille said there were "many skilled, passionate people abroad" who wanted to return home.

The Freedom Front Plus, which instituted the legal action that won expats the right to vote, only clinched 270 votes.

"I'm a bit disappointed because we fought for it," leader Pieter Mulder said.

Maseko said the enthusiasm of the expats also boded well for building a "brain bank" of South Africans living abroad to help improve the country's image, and to bring investment, knowledge and skills back into the country.

He said the Homecoming Revolution and the International Marketing Council's Global South Africans network were doing much to connect South Africans abroad with South Africa.

"The Homecoming Revolution has done excellent work over the past five years or so in creating such a climate and pro-actively connecting South Africans abroad with companies at home seeking skills," Maseko said. - BuaNews

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