The DA Abroad welcomes the recent reply to a parliamentary question by DA Deputy Chief Whip, Mike Waters, that the then Minister of Home Affairs, Ayanda Dlodlo was considering scrapping the requirement to produce a passport when voting abroad as it is the DA’s view that this is discriminatory against those South Africans living overseas.
In February 2018, Mike Waters, asked the Minister, as to the whether her department intends on amending legislation to allow South Africans living abroad to produce only one official document when voting; if not, (a) why not and (b) is it not discriminatory against those South Africans living abroad to have to provide two official documents when South Africans voting at home only have to produce an identity document; if so, when will these amendments be tabled?
In response, the Minister confirmed that ahead of the 2019 national and provincial elections, the intention of the Electoral Commission (IEC) is to amend section 11(1) of the Election Regulations, 2004, such that South African citizens who intend to apply to vote abroad will not be required to produce a passport, but will be required to produce an identity document or smart identity card indicating citizenship of the Republic of South Africa. The proposal to amend electoral legislation falls within the statutory jurisdiction of the Electoral Commission.
The DA Abroad welcomes the confirmation that only a Green Barcoded ID Book or Smart ID card will be required to vote abroad is being discussed by the IEC and the Department of International Relations & Co-operation (DIRCO) and encourages urgency on this matter considering the imminence of the 2019 National Elections.
An Update on Increasing Overseas Voting Stations
In a follow up question to one asked by the DA in November 2017 on the matter of increasing overseas voting station, in March 2018, Mike Waters also asked the new Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, for more information on the Department’s plans to increase overseas voting stations, and specifically by what date these reviews would be completed.
In summary, the Minister responded, stating that the completion date of these reviews was unknown but that they would be finalized ahead of the elections in 2019.
This response is simply not good enough. As South Africans travel abroad regularly, it is important that the availability of overseas voting stations are determined as soon as possible to ensure voters are able to plan where they vote in advance.
In the 2014 National Election, thousands of South Africans were unable to vote as they overseas voting stations were too far away for them to cast their vote. The Department of Home Affairs and the IEC has a duty to ensure that to the best of their endeavours, every South African, no matter where they live in the world, is given the opportunity to cast their vote. This can only be possible through the establishment of additional voting stations where large numbers of the diaspora reside.
Requested Improvements to Overseas Voting
The DA Abroad’s campaign to improve overseas voter access continues, and further to the request to remover the requirement for a passport when voting, and increasing the number of voting stations abroad, we are also campaigning for the following:
1. Overseas voting days to be held on a weekend.
2. Establishing voting stations as counting stations (to avoid overseas votes not being included in the count due to courier delays as previously experienced in 2014).
3. Improving the performance of DIRCO who manage overseas voter registration and the voting stations.