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Scores fail to vote at SA Maseru embassy

… as activist urges Lesotho citizens with South African IDs to vote in May 7 general elections.

Boitumelo Koloi

Coletu-general-secretary-Vuyani-TyhaliA total of 435 people who wanted to cast their ballot in last week’s special voting session reserved for South African expatriates, were turned away by the SA High Commission in Maseru.
South Africans living abroad cast their vote on April 30 ahead of the rest of the country, which goes to the polls on May 7 to elect a new president, national assembly, as well as legislatures in each of the country’s nine provinces.

But according to the South African High Commission in Maseru, only nine people’s applications to cast their vote from Lesotho were successful while the rest could not make it for various reasons.
“Those whose applications to cast their vote from here were unsuccessful will not participate in this year’s edition of the election because their application to vote from abroad means they denounced their right to vote from within South Africa,” South Africa’s Deputy High Commissioner to Lesotho, Mr Sello Jelle, yesterday told the Sunday Express.

Thousands of Lesotho citizens illegally hold South African identity documents (IDs) since the country does not allow dual citizenship, and it is suspected these were some of the people who could not vote at the Embassy last Wednesday.

Due to Lesotho’s geographical and historical relations with South Africa, Lesotho citizens have found it easy to acquire SA identity documents. Again, Lesotho nationals used to constitute the majority of migrant labourers in the South African mines, and after the country gained independence in 1994, the miners were given a chance to apply for the SA ID.

However, the Sunday Express has since learnt only “bona fide” South African citizens benefitted from the arrangement to vote from abroad, and in the case of Lesotho, from the South African High Commission in Maseru because they had both the ID and the South African passport.

The expatriates were also supposed to notify the Electoral Commission of South Africa of their intention to vote abroad, and select the foreign mission at which they intended to vote, by submitting a VEC10 form by March 12 2014.

According to Jelle, failure to vote in last week’s exercise was also due to some legitimate South Africans staying in Lesotho failing to complete the required documentation.
“There are two forms which were to be filled for one to be able to vote in the presidential poll from abroad; the Z10 which allows one to participate in the election, as well as the VEC 10 form which means an applicant has denounced their right to vote from their initial voting station in SA,” Mr Jelle said.

In most cases, Mr Jelle said people had filled the VEC10 form without completing the Z10 “hence their applications were unsuccessful”.
Meanwhile, the Congress of Lesotho Trade Unions (Coletu) Secretary General, Mr Vuyani Tyhali, yesterday told the Sunday Express Basotho would still participate in the South African polls on Wednesday as many had not applied to vote from the High Commission in Maseru.

Tyhali, an activist of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), said he expected the ANC to win the Free State provincial poll through the participation and support of Lesotho nationals holding SA IDs, who have been encouraged to vote for the liberation movement “because the ANC has been so good to Basotho”.
“We encourage Basotho carrying South African IDs to vote for the ANC because we have seen the benefits of a Free State province, which is run by the ANC.
“I know that there are more than 300 Basotho who had applied to vote from the High Commission in Maseru, but we are confident that there are many more nationwide, most of them former and/or current mineworkers, who will be able to vote from within the Free State, thereby helping the ANC to win,” Mr Tyhali said.

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