DA Abroad protest Dec 2011 Image by Hayley

Home » Back to my roots: An expat’s call to change the future of SA

Back to my roots: An expat’s call to change the future of SA

Read Hayley’s story Back to my roots: An expat’s call to change the future of South Africa.

DA Abroad protest Dec 2011 Image by Hayley

I stood among the poorest of the poor, crudely constructed shacks each housing six or more fellow South Africans. A far cry from the bustling streets of London where I have lived for the past 15 years, and yet it was the most ‘at home’ I have felt in years. My new friend who lives here, turned to me, and said, ‘Welcome home, Zulu child.’ 


I left Durban, South Africa in 2008. I had no interest in politics back then however I came across a protest being organised by the Democratic Alliance Abroad outside the South African High Commission in Trafalgar Square, London. So, I thought to myself what a fantastic way to make new friends! 

I did not realise it immediately, but it was on that icy morning of Saturday 3 December 2011 that I found my true passion and purpose. Soon after, I also immersed myself in the Black South African diaspora community in the U.K. The people I met brought to life what I had read about in my high school history books. And so, my road to becoming a passionate South African activist began…

Fast forward 12 years and I have just returned from a three-week solo trip to South Africa. Whilst at home, I met with leaders from the Democratic AllianceActionSAInkatha Freedom PartyUnited Democratic Movement & RISE Mzansi political parties as well as OUTA (Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse)eDEAF and the KZN Deaf Association and Mbali Ntuli, founder of The Groundwork Collective. I also spent time in Molweni, Cato Manor and uMlazi townships in Durban. 

Hayley with Adrian Roos DA DEPUTY shadow minister home Image by Hayley
Hayley with Adrian Roos DA DEPUTY shadow minister home Image by Hayley

Being physically present in the reality that millions of my fellow citizens face daily is quite truly something else. South Africa is a broken society. A place where teenagers say, ‘Why should we bother going to school when there’s no jobs for us?’ I spent time in places where child rape, alcoholism, drug, and other types of abuse are commonplace amongst those who struggle to survive each day. Far too many adults have given up and countless children left to fend for themselves. 

The resounding response from many people I speak to across the country, is the same ‘We are gatvol of the ANC, but we don’t know who else to vote for!’ These are the people whose hearts and minds we need to educate, empower, and inspire. 

I cannot get my head around why South Africans are still so grossly apathetic! So many agree that ‘enough is enough’ yet are unable to understand the need for mass action against a party that is steaming ahead towards socialism, which will, in time, turn South Africa into a communist, failed state. 

I wish to draw your attention to that feeling of home that those of us abroad have a deep longing for. In the 15 years I have lived abroad, every one of the tens of thousands of Saffas I have engaged with, holds so much love and hope in their hearts for the country who made them who they are. We all have our reasons for leaving, but for most, home is and always will be exactly that, home! As residents of the ‘10th province’, we have an enormous role to play in putting South Africa on the right trajectory. We need to Vote Home! 

We have the potential to reach a target of 750,000 overseas registrations on the IEC voters roll and deliver at least 300,000 votes for the national ballot in 2024. We know more than 90% of expats vote opposition thus it will give us an estimated 4-5 opposition seats in our national parliament. With overseas voting typically taking place 2 weeks prior to the election date in South Africa, with a high voter turnout abroad, I believe we can have a significant impact on inspiring those back home to understand that their vote really does count and encourage them to vote for change too. 

And yes, I do hear your complaints about why we should take time off work and travel across whatever country we live in, at great expense, when for every one expat vote, there’s thousands of votes for the ruling party. We need to understand that the only way South Africa is going to turn a corner, is through political means. 

Whilst our political system is far from perfect, I personally know numerous committed individuals who are on the ground every day pushing for voter registration and education, from ward councillors to MPLs to MP’s and senior executive leadership as well as NPO initiatives in the voter education space. I, for one, do not wish to see their efforts wasted because as a collective we once again choose apathy over action. To those committed individuals on home soil: I see, appreciate, and commend you. Please keep doing what those of us abroad cannot. 

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Although this is a very loose guestimate, the core opposition parties who are likely to make up an opposition coalition government will need to spend a collective ZAR 1.5 -2 billion on their election campaigns. For context, in 2019 the ANC spent ZAR 1 billion and the DA spent ZAR 600 million. Imagine if 25,000 expats each gave £10 per month, over the next 10 months that is a total estimate of ZAR 50 million which will give them the capacity to reach a million or more fellow citizens on home soil. Now imagine if we quadruple that!

Hayley at DA board protest December 2011 Image by Hayley

We have a severely declining voter base. In 2019 less than 17.5 million voted out of a total registered population of twenty-six million. Political analyst Tessa Dooms stated in June that she believes if the fourteen million unregistered young people voted for change, we can unseat the ANC. We absolutely MUST dig deep into our pockets to provide these opposition parties with the means to reach the millions I mentioned above, the broken ones among us. 

You might call me crazy to think that a full opposition coalition is achievable, but I will kindly refer you to the ‘Think Different’ quote about the crazy ones, the misfits by Steve Jobs. The future of South Africa truly does lie in our hands. I will leave you with one simple question: Are you willing to join me in being crazy enough to get this job done? If so, I ask that you personally contact me so we can grow an army of upstanding citizens determined to fight for what is right and good about South Africa.