Former Louis Trichardt residents Dawie and Chantal Roux, photographed in front of the South African Embassy in Abu Dhabi, where they cast their votes on Saturday, 18 May. Across the world, fellow South African expatriats followed suit. Photo supplied.

'Saturday showed us what a rainbow nation really is'

News in brief - Date: 24 May 2024


South Africans living abroad had the opportunity to cast their votes on Saturday, 18 May, in the run-up to the country’s seventh general election on 29 May. This was also the case at the South African Embassy in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with South Africans queuing in 50°C heat to make their voices heard.

Among them were former Louis Trichardt residents Dawie and Chantal Roux. “The incredible heat did not deter us South Africans. We can handle a lot!” said the duo.

The Roux couple left South Africa just over eight years ago and find themselves among the more than 100,000 South Africans living and working in the UAE, operating in, among others, the health-care, hospitality, petroleum, and financial sectors.

South African expatriates in the UAE are a close-knit family, and according to the Roux couple, the camaraderie between them is stronger than it was while living and working in South Africa. “We don’t see colour or language. During braais, we get music requests across all racial boundaries for Afrikaans music because it feels like home. Everybody supports the Springboks, Proteas, and Bafana. Sport unites all South Africans, also in the UAE,” said Chantal during a previous interview with the newspaper in December last year regarding the life of South Africans living and working outside the country.

On 18 May this year, South African expatriates were united once again, this time to cast their vote. At the South African Embassy in Abu Dhabi, voting took place from 07:00 to 19:00. “The ambassador kept us informed the whole day about what was happening and how far the process was. He also told us that within the first four hours of voting, more people had voted than during the whole day in the previous election,” said Chantal. This again highlighted the fact that the 2024 elections are regarded as one of the most important elections after the first 1994 democratic election.

“The spirit among the South Africans was extremely positive,” said Chantal. To add to the festive atmosphere, the South African Embassy handed out bottled water throughout the day, while the Hyperama, their local SAFFA shop, provided ice cream. Voters also got a “taste of home” with free boerewors rolls on offer.

“It was clear that people across all racial boundaries wanted to see change in our lovely country. Saturday showed us what a rainbow nation really is. We are proudly South African,” said the Roux couple.


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Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.

Email: [email protected]