DIVIDED ON THE BALLOT BUT UNITED AS A COUNTRY
By; Gift Nyamapfene
After a long quest that tested the perseverance and courage of the sons and daughters of this land, Mzansi finally climbed on the wagon to reap the fruits of the hard earned democracy.
South Africa celebrates her 20th birthday this year and has a ginormous birthday present -its election year.
Politicians all over the country have been cat fighting since the last general election in 2009 and the electorate is king at the moment.
A notable share of progress has been made in the last two decades as eloquently boasted by President Jacob Zuma and any other official of the ruling party who could lease a podium early this year.
However, in all fairness, the country has been equally served with controversy. The blueprints for socio-economic agenda in the country have pole-axed millions of South Africans.
Corruption scandals such as NkandlaGate starring numerous government officials including the president of the rainbow nation have made noise on front pages in the media.
Political analysts believe that this has been a major set back for the country despite of all the progress that has been made.
“The result is a blockage to economic and social development,” said Moeletsi Mbeki, deputy chairman of South African Institute of International Affairs.
Ambivalent stances by government towards labour legislation for instance, have failed the working class. This has been reflected by some horrific events such as the 2012 Marikana wildcat mass action.
Workers in the primary sector of the country’s industry have been suffocated for far too long. However, the government and the 1% elite claim credit for the prosperity of South Africa look on in their Bentleys and Limousines.
Endless strikes by workers around the country are a desperate cry for help and change.
Moeletsi Mbeki said, “What remains to be seen is how long South African society, particularly the poor voting majority will be willing to tolerate these costs to their welfare and voice their discontent by either voting for a different political party or resorting to violent protests similar to those seen in Marikana at Lonmin mine.”
On the first general election held in 1994, head counts were high. Of South Africa’s 22, 7 million eligible voters, 19.7 million voted in the 1994 national election.
Michael Gumede (47) who voted 20 years ago at Ngunyameni farm said that the atmosphere on the day was indescribable.
He voted for the African National Congress (ANC) led by Nelson Mandela.
Gumede looked up in a strange pause as he tried to recollect a vivid memory of the first democratic election and said “It was a new day, a new thing, a new dawn and it was confusing because I was excited but I did not know what was expected of me.”
Gumede claims that he has participated in all the three general elections since independence and believes voting has now become more complex as politicians are making even more impossible promises.
“I have attended rallies in Umlazi where I now live and we have been promised a lot but all in all the promises lack explanation of how those promises will be fulfilled and people need to be careful because they might be fooled,” said Gumede.
Gumede says regardless of the leadership crisis in the country, the ruling ANC deserves another ticket on the wagon and he will make sure of it with his votes this year.