The South African elections are coming up very soon (as in this week Wednesday, May 8th!) and for many young people in our country this is a very momentous occasion! As it should be. It will be the first time many people, including myself, are able to vote! In free and fair elections! To exercise our democratic rights! Something so many of our grandparents, parents and relatives fought for, through our country’s tumultuous and divided history… And yet, it’s plagued with disillusionment and disappointment for so many of us.
I have spent the last few weeks thinking about the elections, confused on what it is I want to vote for, especially in the face of the many social injustices in our country. My disillusionment and frustration has come recently from the divided nature of Cape Town, where I study and live currently. It’s also come from the campaign advertising I’ve been exposed to (without my own research). Despite having done the research, read the manifestos, listened to radio interviews and kept an eye on scandals via social media, I can’t say I am any less confused than I was before.
It’s difficult to decide who to give your vote to when you come from a generation that was not born or raised during the struggle, and is not loyal to a specific party because of history. I want to see South Africans receive justice. I want to see corruption eradicated in government. I want to justice for the poorest of our population, even if this is at the expense of the wealthiest 1%. But who do I vote for?
Social media has had a big role in these elections, but not in a way that has been entirely helpful to my choice… After speaking to Mmusi Maimane I was moved by his passion and desire to change South Africa, however it’s hard to know how successful he will be. Will he really and properly address the injustices affecting people in South Africa? Or is he just driving a capitalist agenda that might increase our economy but will drag the poorest of the poor through the mud to reach his goal? Is it trying and failing to connect with people of colour in this country? Is the DA pandering to the white voters in this country? As a white voter, I am concerned that potentially many white voters seem to be completely overlooking life in South Africa beyond their nice Woolies fruit and BMWs, and are voting for the DA because they believe the DA will preserve their Woolies lifestyle… And that’s not okay. I’m not saying that’s what the DA will do, just that I have witnessed first hand white South Africans who think like that. Stuck in their bubble. Of privilege. Of whiteness. Completely unaware, and unwilling to become aware.
I also have been considering the idea of political loyalty. The ANC has maintained a large amount of its support because of voter’s who have been loyal to the party since the struggle. It makes sense. Our country is barely 30 years out of apartheid, legally anyway, and so how can we expect the party that brought us liberation to have been ousted just yet? We can’t. Also, I think there’s a big part of people, myself included, that wish that the ANC was not as corrupt as it has become. A desire to believe that it could have maintained it’s fair, equal, committed and democratic values since 1994. Alas, we seem to have let money and greed get in the way of truly changing South Africa for the better… Change, actual restorative change, after apartheid cannot and did not come overnight. It takes work and we’re still not there yet. This does not mean we can’t get there though. With this being Ramaphosa’s chance to get properly elected, rather than handed the presidency in light of Zuma’s impeachment, I have wondered if his leadership in the ANC might have positive change? It’s complicated though, there are so many things to consider. More than I could possibly do in one blog post.
For now, I am curious. Perhaps it’s naïve, but I’d like to be hopeful rather than disillusioned and disappointed. I hope the elections and the politics that follow can help me remain hopeful…
For anyone who is interested: