South Africa’s highest court has ruled today that citizens living abroad should be allowed to vote in next month’s watershed general election.
Reports claim that the Constitutional Court said citizens living abroad and registered to vote had the right to vote in the April 22 election.
The elections are expected to be the most closely-fought since apartheid ended in 1994.
The ANC faces its most serious election test, including a challenge from the breakaway Congress of the People (COPE) and growing frustration with corruption, poor services and widespread poverty and crime.
But is it said that expatriate votes are highly unlikely to significantly reduce the ANC’s expected margin of victory.
The exact number of people that will be eligible is not yet known.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said it would have enough time to process overseas votes.
IEC’s chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula said after the judgement.”At the moment we have about 5,000 people that have informed us of their intention to vote overseas, but the number will maybe double or so, so we just have to make an estimation of how many votes we (are) going to send overseas,”
The ANC is almost certain to win the election and make party leader Jacob Zuma South African President despite a corruption case that has dogged him for years, creating political uncertainty in Africa’s biggest economy.
Zuma has tried to reassure investors that his ties with unions and the Communist Party will not change economic policies.