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Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 13:15 UK

South African expat views on voting

South African expats wait to vote outside SA House in Trafalgar Square

For the first time since 1994 South Africans overseas will be allowed to cast their votes in the country's fourth general election.

In March the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg ruled that South Africans who were overseas and registered to vote could do so.

Prior to the judgement only a very limited number of South Africans abroad were eligible to cast their ballot.

Britain is home to the largest diaspora of expatriates with more than 7,000 potential voters hoping to cast their ballot on 15 April, according to South Africa's High Commission in Trafalgar Square.

BBC News has been in touch with six South Africans who're in London to vote, to find out why they're doing so.

Janelle ScrimgeourNthuthu NomkucaGareth SearleHenri Le RicheToni ParsonsNadia Kruger

JANELLE SCRIMGEOUR, ORIGINALLY FROM DURBAN

Janelle Scrimgeour
The last time I voted was in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape in 2004 so it'll be incredibly exciting to be queuing in London.

I came to the UK after struggling to find work back home but would like to go back sometime.

That's why I think it's so important that I'm allowed to vote even though I'm not in the country at the moment.

We're going to be electing a government who're going to serve for the next five years and in that time I may return so why shouldn't I be able to choose who I'd like to govern?

For me there's a lot riding on the result and especially in the direction that the country's going to go.

I have so much hope for South Africa and miss my family a lot who're all still living in Durban. Of course being in England the thing I miss the most is the sunshine.


NTHUTHU NOMKUCA, ORIGINALLY FROM EASTERN CAPE

Ntuthu Nomkuca
Although I work in Birmingham, I am travelling to London to vote on Wednesday.

It is so very important for all South Africans to have their say and vote wherever they happen to be in the world.

There are just so many other people greater than us, like Nelson Mandela for example, who have given so much to allow us to be able to vote.

I wouldn't miss this opportunity for the world and no-one who calls themselves South African should.

These are critical times in our country and the struggle of the past is a different one now. Corruption, crime and poverty are just some of the evils that the country faces.

We need to do everything we can to make sure the country stays going in the right direction.

There are still so many positive things about South Africa which is why, after five years of living in Britain, I intend to return to the Eastern Cape at the end of the year.

That is why I will be at South Africa House, to cast my vote for the future of our beautiful country.


GARETH SEARLE, ORIGINALLY FROM JOHANNESBURG

Gareth Searle
My wife and I came to the UK five years ago because of economics.

I bought a house in Johannesburg, the British pound was strong and it was easier to pay off the mortgage in sterling.

In 18 months, when the house is paid off, I intend to go back. Of course I'll be voting.

Unlike a lot of South Africans abroad I am optimistic about the country. It's not going to go the same way as Zimbabwe.

You just need to travel through some of the suburbs in Johannesburg to see the vast middle class of all South Africans, black and white.

They're paying off their houses and they're working hard for their families. There is too much for them to lose.

I have travelled around Africa, to places like Nigeria and Congo, and even though South Africa has its problems, they're nothing like what you see in other countries. It makes you realise just how advanced the country really is.

The ANC have done good for South Africa, they're still building roads, fixing infrastructure and I can see why Jacob Zuma is as popular as he is. He tells people what they want to hear.

Imagine you're from a previously disadvantaged background and still living in a shack, you too would want to hear from someone who promises to change your situation.

Whether Jacob Zuma can deliver is, of course, another issue.


HENRI LE RICHE, ORIGINALLY FROM NORTHERN CAPE

Henri Le Riche
I'm optimistic for South Africa even though the country is facing some difficult problems.

Crime is obviously a massive issue and needs addressing by tougher law enforcement.

I also don't think the friends South Africa's currently making, like Libya and China, are necessarily the right ones.

I'm in Britain for economic reasons and it's nice to be earning money so that I can return to South Africa often.

I am willing to give Jacob Zuma the benefit of the doubt, he may just surprise us because he seems to be wanting to do everything that Thabo Mbeki didn't do in addressing issues like poverty, for example.

Of course this could just be Zuma playing politics but let's see.

I think his problems will come when the trade unions, who Zuma is so cosy with, start making demands on him.

I would like to support the new Congress of the People party (Cope) because South Africa needs a strong opposition to the ANC. However, I worry that Cope may just become a lifeboat for disaffected members of the ANC.

Whatever the case, it's good for South Africa that ANC faces some sort of opposition. It's what the country's needed.


TONI PARSONS, ORIGINALLY FROM JOHANNESBURG

Toni Parsons
It seems that, for the first time since 1994, there is a real chance for elections to make some difference.

I don't have faith in Jacob Zuma becoming the president of South Africa and I think a lot of people are realising that.

South Africans are naturally optimistic, we believe that things always will get better which is why Jacob Zuma appeals to people by promising to lift them out of poverty. It's fine to pledge that but in five years, when those he promised are still living in poverty, how will they feel then?

I think it's a dangerous game when politicians use extremely emotive language instead of offering a credible solution.

As the gap between the richer and poorer grows, so the bitterness will increase.

How would you feel to be living in a shack without running water when some of your countrymen are driving the most expensive Mercedes?

South Africa is crying out for someone to lead our country and make it the place where all South Africans can live.

I'd love to go back home and that's why I'm going to be voting. Not just because of our history but because it's the best way to still be involved in our country.


NADIA KRUGER, ORIGINALLY FROM PRETORIA

Nadia Kruger
There's nothing worse than having to listen to a South African in London moan about the country.

'"Crime this, jobs that..."

I say if you want to do something about it then go and vote to make a difference! That's why I am so excited to be casting my ballot.

The last time I queued was at a polling station in Pretoria in 2004, I never thought that the next time would be in London.

I have such hope for South Africa because we can get out there and participate in our democracy. It's wonderful to be able to do so.

However, I really want to say to those back home - just because I am in London doesn't make me any less South African or any less patriotic. I get really irritated when people think that I've somehow run away. I haven't, I am here because of work.

I miss the country and my family terribly which is why I'm on a plane every six months to visit.

Of course I'm going to return to live and bring all the skills I have learnt with me. When you're born in South Africa you have it in your veins and it never goes away.

No matter where you are in the world, even without the sunshine, you will always be a South African.



Are you a South African abroad and have you voted? Were in in London to cast your ballot? Have you had any problems in being able to vote?

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