The African National Congress plans to dispatch a delegation to Israel next week to encourage South African citizens living here to vote in upcoming elections, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Members of the South African Israel Forum will accompany the delegation.
Reliable sources indicated that the main reason for the arrival of the six-member team of senior ANC officials is to get eligible South Africans to register and vote in the national elections, scheduled for May.
“It is the first time that such a delegation is coming for this reason,” one source said. An estimated 25,000 South Africans have made aliya, but not all of them are eligible to vote.
The delegation is to meet twice with former South Africans in Israel: next Monday, February 3, at 7:30 p.m. at Yad Lebanim in Ra’anana, and at the same time the next day at 51 Yigal Yadin Street, Modi’in.
(Book attendance through Telfed, telephone (09) 790- 7801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.) Members of the delegation will meet with Israeli officials and tour religious sites during their visit.
According to the Electoral Commission of South Africa, South African citizens living overseas are being given their first-ever chance to register abroad to vote in the national elections this year. Previously, only expatriates who had already registered in the country were able to vote. South Africans abroad still cannot vote in provincial elections.
To register, citizens can go to any one of South Africa’s 124 embassies, high commissions or consulates-general around the world, including the embassy in Tel Aviv. They will be required to show a valid identity document and a passport to register.
South Africans living overseas who were registered to vote in previous elections do not need to register again.
The registration process is currently open and will take place until Friday, February 7.
On election day, South African citizens abroad have to fill out a form (only available once the election date is announced) to apply for a special vote. This can then be cast at any of the country’s diplomatic missions abroad. (For more information, visit the IEC website, www.elections.org.za.) The South African elections are the first since former ANC leader and president Nelson Mandela died in December.
They are expected to pit the ANC’s Jacob Zuma, the incumbent president, against the opposition Democratic Alliance’s new leader, Mamphela Ramphele.
Although the ANC won almost two-thirds of the vote in the previous elections in 2009, its support has been waning over recent years.
Zuma, who became president in 2009, has vowed to crack down on corruption after coming under heavy criticism for spending millions of rands on upgrading his private residence in his home province of Kwazulu-Natal. Ramphele, a former anti-apartheid activist and successful businesswoman who made a fortune as a mining industry executive, has slammed the ANC as “authoritarian, intolerant of criticism and unaccountable.”
Despite charges that the ANC has failed to end corruption and ease widespread poverty in South Africa, polls show that it is likely to sweep to victory again in the upcoming elections.
The ANC has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, winning elections in 1999, 2004 and 2009, when it garnered 59.9 percent of the vote. Since the days of Mandela’s popular presidency, the party has prided itself on Jewish support in South Africa, Israel and around the world.