It is mid-winter, August 3, New Zealand and in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city there are political billboards on street corners, the sides of buildings, corners of parks.
The New Zealand general election will be held on 23 September 2017 that is what is on people’s minds, but a small group of Aucklanders, originally from Rwanda, are already voting in another election.
It is their first chance to vote from New Zealand in the Rwandan presidential elections and the interest is strong.
There are 43 registered Rwandan voters in New Zealand, eligible to take part in this year’s presidential elections.
Alan Hakizimana who is in Auckland has told IGIHE; “The polling station is a room in a community center, that has a team of people headed by the Consul General Clare de Lore, Lady McKinnon,” He goes to say that there are other community leaders including Raymond Serwakira and Ph.D. student Egide Kalisa.
The ballot papers have three candidates listed in order and all is set.
Due to the international dateline, Rwandans in New Zealand’s have been the first to cast their votes, and the first voters are said to have arrived shortly after the polls officially opened at 11:00 am Thursday (which is 2:00 pm Wednesday afternoon back in Rwanda.)
Alan Hakizimana is happy to hold the distinction of being the first Rwandan in the diaspora to mark his ballot paper and then deliver it into the secure ballot box.
Over the course of the next ten hours, Hakizimana says that voters turned up in ones or twos.
Once it was 6:00 pm and work was over for most of the day, some voters were reported to have arrived with their children, and there is laughter as well as serious intent.
As the clock ticked towards 9:00 pm, the last voters trickled in, to make their choice, before the ballot box was secured.