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South Africans divided on value and agency of voting in general elections

South Africans divided on value and agency of voting in general elections
Khayelitsha residents during the 2019 general elections queueing at voting stations on 8 May 2019 in Cape Town. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

Many in SA are desperate for change and they are hoping the upcoming elections will provide just that. Others remain sceptical that voting has the power to change the status quo.

Daily Maverick reporters hit the streets of South Africa recently, people of all voting ages if they are going to be voting in the upcoming general election.

The country goes to the polls on 29 May in what is likely going to be the first election where a coalition government is formed as the ruling ANC faces declining electoral support.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Dramatic decline in electoral support of ANC clear from new national poll

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024

The Zondo Commission into State Capture laid bare rampant corruption and maladministration in South Africa that typically goes unpunished. Soaring crime stalks citizens, unemployment is at a record high and inequality keeps on getting worse.

Many of the eligible voters that Daily Maverick spoke to, showed interest in voting but raised concerns about their vote not working to change their lives for the better.

“I am definitely going to vote,” said Tsediso Mnkhenga from Belhar in Cape Town. “I would like to live in a better state. I am voting because I want change to come to South Africa.”

These videos were aired during Daily Maverick’s The Gathering Twenty Twenty Four on Thursday. The event took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town.

“No, I am not going to vote,” claimed Bandile Zuba from Philippi — an area in Cape Town facing crime and high unemployment. “Everyone votes and there is no change.”

Zainap Maart from Salt River said she found it pointless to vote if there is still going to be rampant corruption. “There is nothing that is changing. I do not feel like voting. I am not going to vote.”

Jabulani Sello from Johannesburg, a municipality facing challenges like the ongoing water crisis, said it is the sole responsibility of young people to make their voices heard by participating in the upcoming elections.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Unfolding water crisis in Johannesburg deepens as officials scramble for answers

“The previous generation had to take it to the streets to fight so that we can have this opportunity to vote. It is our responsibility to vote and select a government that we want.”

In Pretoria, Lwazi Msomi said he was not exactly sure as he believed that whether he votes or not he has a sense of who is going to win (he did not say who).

“Maybe (I will vote).” He also said he does not think his vote makes his voice heard.

Read more in Daily Maverick: The Gathering 2024

Nonceba Msweswa from the Eastern Cape, where one of the poorest municipalities (Ntabankulu Local Municipality) in the country is found, said she was not going to vote in the upcoming elections.

“I don’t know which party to vote for,” she said.

Majiet Fajodien believes all the political parties are dishonest and do not deserve his vote. “All the parties are the same,” he claimed. “Everyone is lying.” He sent a strong message to the candidates and said they should stop making empty promises.

Nelly Dlamini from Tembisa said she sometimes feels like her vote does not make any difference. “I am still going to vote anyway, just to see how it goes.”

Dlamini’s message to politicians was a reminder that they are voted in to serve the people — not the other way around. “Let it be about the people, not power. Do the right thing, the right thing is not stealing from citizens who are paying tax [and] who are really barely making [it] in this economy.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • virginia crawford says:

    The Russian experience of democracy in the 90s was chaos, corruption and unemployment which paved the way for Putin. Russia did become more stable and prosperous, but. This could happen here: a promise to deal with crime and corruption with a very heavy hand would be welcomed here, and success would guarantee a second term, but then the heavy hand begins to hate criticism and questions, and that doesn’t end well. All the opposition parties need to take a long hard look at themselves and instead of blaming voters, up their game. Parading Helen Zille is a death blow for the DA, but they unable to understand this – how do you lose against a corrupt and incompetent crowd like the ANC? An answer that doesn’t blame voters please.

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