South Africans in the diaspora have started voting, at the country’s embassies.

Yesterday was the first of two days South African citizens abroad can cast their vote in the National and Provincial Elections 2024.

“South African citizens living in other countries will cast the first ballots on 17 May 2024. Nine countries will cast ballots on Friday while the rest of the 102 will cast ballots on Saturday, 18 May 2024,” Electoral Commission (IEC) Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said.

Given the high numbers of expected voters in London at 24 194, this station will operate on both the 18 and 19 May 2024.

The international segment of the voters roll for out-of-country voters has 56 698 voters, but the total number of people expected to vote is 76 580.

“This comes after the approval of 20 886 VEC10 notifications from voters who informed the Chief Electoral Officer of their intention to vote outside of the country due to temporary absence,” Mamabolo said.

The commissioner said the IEC was ready to ensure that voting goes smoothly in 111 foreign missions around the world.

“All missions have already received the election materials, which include ballot papers, voting booths, ballot boxes, envelopes and a voter list.”

Voting stations will be open from 07:00am to 19:00pm, allowing 76 580 voters to exercise their right to vote in South Africa’s 2024 National Elections.

“On both voting days abroad, the Electoral Commission will keep extended hours to assist voters with any enquiries,” he said.

Commenting on the development, renowned investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono says Zimbabweans should start making noise to force the government to allow diaspora voting.

“This picture was taken today, showing South Africans lining up to vote in London.

“This is a right that Mnangagwa’s government has denied to millions of Zimbabweans scattered around the world!

“Zimbabweans, both at home and abroad, must now start seriously thinking about a constitutional way to force the ZANUPF regime to respect citizens’ rights to electing a government if their choice.

“The liberation struggle was about ONE person, ONE vote, so refusing to allow citizens to vote is a violation of the basis of the liberation struggle,” he says.

Despite growing calls from opposition leaders and activists, the government and ruling party ZANU-PF have crashed every move to change the laws to allow Zimbabweans living in foreign countries to exercise their right to vote.