THE DA will again be taking the government to court in a bid to ensure that South Africans living abroad can vote for their preferred provincial leadership in next year's general election.
Briefing the media in parliament yesterday, DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said the party had filed papers in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.
South Africans living overseas can, at present, only register to vote in the national election.
The DA believed the Electoral Amendment Bill, which is before the portfolio committee on home affairs and allows for only national ballot votes, might be unconstitutional in that it limited a South African's right to vote.
"When we vote, the constitution provides for both a regional and a national list," Selfe said.
"All South Africans have the right to vote for both lists and this contributes to the makeup of the National Assembly."
He said the party saw no reason why, under the Independent Electoral Commission Act, all South Africans should not be allowed the same rights afforded to public servants living and working overseas.
"Logistically, this is in fact quite simple and so the DA does not see any logistical or administrative problems. All that is required is for the IEC to provide overseas voters with two ballot papers instead of one," he said.
With only eight months before the poll, Selfe said the DA had been forced to approach the court after a private member's bill to remedy the matter had been rejected by parliament "in its infinitesimal wisdom".
"We are running out of time so we need to push this as fast as possible. We have exhausted the legislative means."
DA MP Masizole Mnqasela denied suggestions that the move was a ploy to garner votes from South Africans overseas who had grown weary of the ANC-led government.
"As long as those are people who wish to cast their votes ... they should not be denied the opportunity to do so. It does not matter whether they support party A or party B ... we need to be able to protect their rights," he said.
Selfe said it was hoped the matter would be heard in court later this month.
The first voter registration weekend has been set down for November 9 and 10.
According to the IEC website, out of a total of 18855 approved notifications from registered voters who intended to vote outside the country in 2009, only 9857 votes were actually cast at 123 foreign missions abroad.
The latest court challenge comes in the wake of the Constitutional Court ruling last week that dismissed a DA application to force the speaker of parliament to hear a vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
ANC chief whip Stone Sizani's office called the move "baffling" and a waste of money.
Caucus spokesman Moloto Mothapo said it was premature to approach the courts when the Electoral Amendment Bill was still being considered by the portfolio committee.
"The DA's baffling decision ... is premature, ill-advised and defies common sense.
"The decision is consistent with the DA's tendency of using the courts to fight its political battles in parliament," Mothapo said.