Cape Town – WITH the world’s gaze fixed on the battle between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in the US elections, American expats in South Africa are waiting with bated breath.
The face-off between incumbent President Trump and Democratic candidate Biden continues to keep audiences around the world glued to their TVs as Biden and running mate Kamala Harris edge closer to the White House.
Kristin Dunkle, who has been living in Cape Town for four years, said: “As an epidemiologist of 20 years’ experience, I have been horrified and heartbroken to watch from Cape Town as Trump’s ignorance and callousness and refusal to respect science have led to the needless death of over 235 000 people in the US.
“A Biden/Harris administration will be first and foremost grounded in reality, and will restore respect for science to US policy-making at home and abroad. The lives of people in Africa who cannot access comprehensive family-planning services due to US funding restrictions tied to the global gag rule depend on it.”
Jonathan Ross, who has been living in Cape Town for five years, said: “People
all over the world know that when you play cards with a cheater, he or she will win until you call them out or stop playing. It’s game over for Trump.
“We just watched the State of Georgia flip from Trump winning to Biden winning. The numbers of votes that separate candidates in many races are tiny. Small margins decide elections, so the efforts of Democrats Abroad South Africa are paying dividends today in elections all over the country.”
Ryan Macauley, who has been living in Cape Town for almost a year, said with the tight races being seen in battleground states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, every vote counts.
“Now that Georgia is slated to propel Biden, it reinforces the fact that every vote, even those of Americans abroad, can have a major impact.
“Though not an early supporter of the Biden campaign, I recognise that he was well-suited to attract independent and Grand Old Party electors. Unfortunately, he’ll have a struggle in his first few years to accomplish his policy agenda as the Republicans will maintain the Senate,” he said.
Meanwhile, on social media @fatma_karume tweeted: “If there is one lesson for Africa to learn from the US elections 2020 it is this: elections are not decided by the army, the police, security services, elections officials, or the president. These people have a duty to ensure that elections are decided by the people.”
Country leader for Democrats Abroad South Africa, Elizabeth O’Leary, said one of the most important differences would be that Biden would serve as a president for all US citizens should he win.
“He will bring decency, dignity and respect back to the office. He and Kamala Harris will lead us in the direction of an America where all Americans can feel a sense of belonging. Both Pennsylvania and Georgia are very important because of their number of electoral votes. Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes which would give him the win (over 270) and Georgia has 16 electoral votes which would bring him one shy of 270,” said O’Leary.
Professor of political science and deputy dean of research in the EMS faculty at UWC, Bhekithemba Mngomezulu, said the US elections would have a direct and indirect impact on South Africa.
“Although there won’t be any serious policy change whether Biden or Trump wins, the reality of the matter is that the incumbent president normally determines the nature of relations with other countries. If Biden was to win, we can look for better relations between South Africa and the US,” said Mngomezulu.
Senior research associate with the Institute for Global Dialogue Sanusha Naidu said this US election was built on vulnerability, uncertainty and ambiguity. Late yesterday, as Biden closed in on victory, the rand strengthened in overseas markets.
While the Republican Party has no chapters in South Africa, a member of Republicans Overseas, David Meredith said: “In this election, the Republican party appears to have increased its share of the House of Representatives and held as many Senate seats as before.
“This continues a trend since the presidency of Barack Obama, when there was significant net loss nationwide in the number of offices held by elected Democrats.”